Helping Backyard Wildlife during the Drought

This morning, I turned on my backyard sprinklers for the first time in a few weeks.  Honestly, I’m torn between wanting to do my part to conserve water during the drought and not wanting everything to die in my backyard.  A few minutes later, I looked out the window and saw that one of my sprinkler pipes had a leak and had created a big puddle in the dirt.  I quickly ran to turn it off.  I looked back out the window and saw 20 to 30 birds swoop in and begin drinking from the puddle and splashing around taking happy bird baths. I've been worried about my plants not making it through the drought, but I hadn't really thought about the nature in my neighborhood.

Backyard wildlife can take a huge hit during a prolonged drought like the one we are having.  Unlike larger migratory birds and wildlife, they are not wide ranging animals and won’t fly far from home to find a freshwater source. 

Here’s how we can help:

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  • Get a bird bath. Water should be no deeper than ½ to 1 inches at the sides and sloping into no more than 2 inches deep in the middle.  The birds wouldn’t come near my pretty store bought bird bath until I lined it with rocks for them to stand on.  Try stones or branches arranged in the bottom of the bath if birds aren’t flocking to your water source.  Remember to add fresh water every few days. 

  • Make a drip jug.  Take a plastic milk jug, poke a small hole in the bottom, fill it with water and hang it over your bird bath.  The sound of dripping water will attract many more birds. This project checks off all the boxes for a great nature project with a child: easy to find supplies that are around the house, simple and quick activity to keep their attention, and a relevant and teachable care for nature moment.

  • Mulch! Mulching around your plants will keep much needed moisture in the ground and help keep food sources like worms and insects alive.

  • Don’t forget the hummingbirds.We have had a couple of freezing nights that knocked out many of my flowering plants for the season.  I know they will come back in the spring, but the hummingbirds are missing a vital food source.  Remember to fill your hummingbird feeder or buy one if you don’t already have it.  Hang it near a window and your little ones will be as happy as the grateful hummingbirds.

 

But, wait!  I don't have a bird bath!

Not a problem.  Here are a couple of great articles with tips for DIY birdbaths. 

http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/solve/howto/birdbath-tips.php

http://www.bobvila.com/diy-branches/44300-wing-it-11-approaches-to-a-diy-birdbath/slideshows#!1

If you are not feeling crazy crafty but now I've got you concerned about the birds and you want to help, no need to worry.  Honestly, the birds are happy with an old frying pan with water in it.  In fact, a frying pan has pretty perfect bird bath dimensions. 

Enjoy your backyard bird watching!