A Little Water A Big Draw For Birds

SUNDAY, AUG. 18, 1996

What’s the most effective method of attracting birds to your back yard this summer?

“A bird bath with a little trickle of water coming into it is the best lure,” said Jesse Grantham, western regional director for the National Audubon Society. “That works even better than a bird feeder.”

The exhuberance with which birds relish water on a hot day is demonstrated in the backyard bird oasis of John and Betty Miller, owners of Wild Birds Unlimited stores in Moscow, Idaho, and Spokane.

Although the Idaho couple’s rural yard is liberally endowed with feeders, a wide variety of birds come to bathe and drink.

The Millers manufacture a simple dripper that can be attached to a garden hose and fastened above a bird bath. The slow drip rations fresh water into the bath. But most important, ripples from the drips attract birds.

The Millers have found that nuthatches and woodpeckers prefer to use baths that are placed against a tree.

“They like to walk down the trunk and hang on to the bark while they drink,” John said.

Other birds walk right into the baths, while some perch on the dripper to drink from the freshest source.

A variation of the dripper sprays a mist.

“We put one in a shrub so the mist sprays out and drips on the leaves,” John said, pointing to a swarm of finches fluttering among the branches. “Hummingbirds will get in there and fan their wings and lick water off the leaves.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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