Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Got H20?

I have decided to start posting more to this blog.  Life is busy and it's been a long time since my last post.  So, keep your eyes open for more to come.  We hope to offer more writers, more topics, and on a more timely basis.

This post is from one of our many guest authors, Jamey Graham, Wildlife Communications Specialist in our Akron office.  Enjoy!

Most people who enjoy backyard or schoolyard bird watching know that providing even the simplest of bird feeding stations will attract our feathered friends, not to mention a wide array of other wild creatures. What many folks don’t think about though is how well watering stations work at reeling in wildlife. In the midst of a snowy, winter day, birds might struggle a bit to find high-energy, nutritious food. But they often struggle harder in a battle to find clean, unfrozen water. Both humans and wildlife can go several days without food, albeit grumbling bellies, but our bodies must be hydrated much more frequently in order to function comfortably.

There are a couple of ways to provide a reliable supply of fresh drinking water for wildlife. And, as with many hobbies, a watering station can be as elaborate and expensive or simple and affordable as you want it to be. Obviously, a traditional birdbath works when temperatures don’t dip below freezing. Keep in mind that this water does not have to be deep. Most birds prefer the water to be very shallow, just a few inches.  So if you have a deep bowl, place a large rock in the center to help displace the H2O. When winter does indeed set in and the temps fall, a heated birdbath or water heater (for a terra cotta, concrete, granite or plastic bowl) will keep the water from freezing. You can purchase either of these at a home and garden department store or specialty supply store that focuses on attracting wildlife. Prices and selection vary greatly depending on where you shop of course. But plan on spending roughly $30-$80 for a good quality item that should last a couple of seasons if not more. You can purchase electric or solar energy products, but keep in mind that solar products tend to cost more initially, but will save you money over time.

As a side note, if you are struggling to attract critters to your feeding and watering stations, you may need to move these stations closer to habitat or plant some vegetation nearby. Birds feel especially vulnerable out in the open, so protective cover in the forms of shrubs, trees, and tall grasses can make a world of difference with your success at attracting wildlife.

Keep the water clean by changing it often-maybe once each week- and you’ll reap the rewards as will your avian visitors. If you need help identifying all of the wonderful birds visiting your property, check out the Division of Wildlife’s interactive guide for a free color guidebook and sound CD.