Northern Shade Gardening

Birdbaths in the Garden

Monday, April 28, 2008 Category: Garden Design

My birdbaths finally defrosted and had their first customers today. Last week they had 6 inches of snow piled on them. birdbath with robin in the gardenI enjoy watching the enthusiastic bathers, even if it means I have to refill the bath a couple of times a day. This time I was lucky; the robin is splashing in the melted snow water. I have a lot of fun watching the bird antics, no matter how common the bird.

When I see them collecting nesting material, hunting for worms, raising their babies and watch the young ones learn to fly, it confirms why I don’t use poisons in the garden. I’d rather tolerate a little diversity in the lawn, pull a few weeds by hand, and buy disease resistant plants than endanger the wildlife or my family.

This is a picture of the area last summer. birdbath with frog designThe Hydrangea paniculata is on the right, with Campanula posharskyana ‘Camgood ‘ (Serbian bellflower) under it. Matteuccia struthopteris (ostrich fern) is behind to the left, Athyrium ‘ghost’ (ghost fern) in front of it, and some double flowering impatiens between. All of these do well on the shady northern side of the fence with an hour or two of sun in the morning.

The next birdbath is the most whimsical decoration that I have in the garden. birdbath with squirrel carving in gardenHere it is last summer in the dappled shade, surrounded by a variety of ferns. They appreciate the extra water when I empty and clean the birdbath. There is the ubiquitous M. struthiopteris (ostrich fern) which manages to pop its head into just about any shot I take in the garden. The other ferns are Dryopteris expansa (spiny wood fern), Adiantum pedatum (Northern maidenhair fern), and Athyrium (lady fern).

Often in the spring and summer, there is a lineup on the tree branches next to each birdbath with customers waiting their turn. If there is a boisterous flock at one bath, the smaller birds might quietly take a drink in the other. In our dry climate, I know the birds appreciate them, and I get hours of entertainment from watching them. Do you have birdbaths in your garden? How do you encourage wildlife?

10 Responses to “Birdbaths in the Garden” »

  1. Barbee' :
    April 29, 2008 at 6:58 am

    Before I had a birdbath, I set metal garbage can lids into the ground and placed a brick in the middle so it wouldn’t be too deep for the smallest birds. They had wonderful times and kept me busy cleaning it each day. Actually, I had two.

    Your ferns and cool green areas are so calm and inviting.

  2. Mrs Be :
    April 29, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Oh, I’ll bet that will waste many hours – watching the birds have fun in their bath!

    We’ve spent a lot of time this spring watching a thrush build her nest and now raise her babies in a bush right next to our kitchen table. So lovely (as long as the neighbourhood cats don’t get them).

  3. Northern Shade :
    April 29, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Great idea, Barbee. My birdbath with the squirrel carving has a recessed area for a fountain, so I placed an upside down container in it.

    Yes, Mrs. Be, I get quite a kick out of the birds splashing, especially now that the water is flowing again. Last week when it was piled with snow, all I could do was watch them play hockey on it.

  4. Barbara :
    April 30, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Good morning,
    I’m glad you made a comment on my blog (thank you for your visit!) so I found the way to your interesting garden too. In my garden there are many shadow places also due to big trees. I guess, I’ll find some very good inspirations with regards to plants here in your garden. Our temperatures in winter can go as well to -18°C, luckily seldom!
    I’ll come back for other visits! Have a good time!
    Barbara

  5. Daphne Gould :
    May 10, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Though I never had a bird bath in my garden, I once upon a time had a small waterfall and tiny pond (1/2 oak barrel). The middle of the tiny falls had a flat spot with gravel underneath. It was only about 1/2″ deep at that point. The birds loved it. They would fight over whose turn it was to take a bath. Then the red tailed hawk moved in and started eating my birds while they were distracted. Ack my poor birdies. I no longer have the tiny pond, and now I can plant cosmos in the spring and not have it ripped out by the nesting birds.

  6. Northern Shade :
    May 10, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Hi Barbara, I love the shady areas and the types of plants that grow there. Another advantage is that there are fewer weeds in the lawn in the shade.

    Daphne, your mini pond and waterfall sounded wonderful.

  7. Cegardens :
    August 13, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    I’m envious. I want to put in a birdbath into my gardening space, however, with 3 cats, one of which is a 21 pound Maine Coon, I have to settle with the hanging type. Yours are very nice. Even with my kitties, I do get many birds……..fortunately, my MC is quite a mellow boy.

  8. Northern Shade :
    August 13, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Cegardens, I have a neighbour cat who comes by once in a long while, but otherwise there aren’t many 4 legged predators.
    The birdbaths are very entertaining, attracting a good variety of birds. It’s satisfying seeing more life in the garden, and some of them spend some time picking assorted insects off the trees.

  9. CoastalGardener :
    May 29, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    My concern with a birdbath is mosquitos. If the water is not moving, doesn’t this give them a breeding space? (with all the concern about West Nile virus).
    I have another question.. i have a tree very close to my house, its about 5 or 6 feet from my living room window. It was already here when we moved in (its a rental). It prevents my garden from getting sun, i have planted shade plants, but i’m worried about the roots going under the foundation or sidewalk and the leaves ending up in my rain gutters. The top branches already are touching my bedroom window on the 2nd floor. Is there a solution to this? The only ideas i’ve come up with are pruning from the top, which i’m not sure my landlord would like, or sending a letter to my landlord company and letting them know of the situation. Any comments or ideas?

  10. Northern Shade :
    May 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Coastal Gardener, I empty and refill the birdbaths every couple of days so they can’t breed in them.

    Although I love trees in the garden, it sounds like that tree is too close to your house, if the branches are pressing against the windows. It does need pruning of the branches to keep it under control. Depending on the type of tree, and its eventual size, it may need to be removed if it is too close. A professional tree surgeon could assess it and see if it just needs some branches removed.

Leave a Reply