Hummingbirds are beautiful, magical and colorful little creatures. Most gardeners would be absolutely overjoyed to attract hummingbirds to their garden. Of course, crafting the right hummingbird garden plan is essential. Another key: putting the right bird bath in the right place. Hummingbirds, after all, are quite particular.
In this article, we'll dive into how to choose a bird bath hummingbirds like. We'll also discuss bath add-ons like fountains and pumps, review how to safely place and install a bird bath, and brush up on proper cleaning and sanitizing of bird baths.
How Hummingbirds Use a Water Source
Before we talk about what bird baths attract hummingbirds, it's important to understand why hummingbirds need access to clean water in the first place.
Most birds visit bird baths to quench their thirst, but hummingbirds do not drink much plain water. The nectar hummingbirds drink provides for nearly all of their hydration and nutrition.
But hummingbirds do need birth baths to bathe! Grooming, for birds, isn't about vanity either. A bird bath offers hummingbirds a place to wash debris and residue from their feathers. A birdbath also allows hummingbirds to spread the oil from their preen gland to the rest of their bodies, helping them stay warm and fly more efficiently.
Plus, a bird bath lets hummingbirds cool off on a warm, summer day.
Key Features of a Hummingbird Bird Bath
Hummingbird bird baths should be brightly colored, remarkably shallow, and feature sprinklers, drippers, fountains or misters. Because hummingbirds are so petite, their water needs are different from that of larger birds'.
Pick a Bright-Colored Bath, Like Red
Hummingbirds naturally flock toward bright colors, like red, because they indicate the presence of nutritious nectar. By choosing a brightly-colored bird bath, you'll up the chances that visiting hummingbirds spot your bird bath, and stay a while.
Of course, you don't have to choose a red bird bath. Any color, including stone, metallic or concrete, will do the trick. Simply place some brightly-colored flowers near the bird bath to ensure you catch hummingbirds' attention.
Keep the Bird Bath Shallow
Hummingbirds are itty-bitty birds, and traditional bird baths tend to be too large for their tiny bodies. As a result, you'll want to choose shallower bird baths when trying to attract hummingbirds to your garden.
If you'd like to choose a regular bird bath, you can simply add stones, gravel or rocks to the bottom of the bird bath to create a more shallow splashing area. The stones also create a less slippery surface for the birds, an added plus.
Add Misters, Drippers and Fountains to Bird Baths
Hummingbirds are quite small, so they're big fans of water features that make bathing more manageable. Adding a mister, dripper, water fountain or solar fountain can provide the access to moving water a hummingbird needs, at a volume these little birds can actually handle.
When adding a mister, whether connected to your bird bath or not, try to position it right next to a plant with leaves. Hummingbirds will actually rub their bodies against wet leaves to bathe.
The mister itself will make noise that attracts hummingbirds. Dewy, sparkling leaves will also catch hummingbirds' eyes. Hummingbirds will also use a mister for direct bathing, but only if the mist is relatively light. The softer the water flow, the better.
You can also add misting sprinkler heads to your existing sprinklers. Just ensure the water flow is low enough that hummingbirds actually use them.
Fountains are another great addition to a hummingbird bath. Fountains tend to have very shallow spots where water just barely pours over. These lips, ledges and edges are the perfect place for hummingbirds to perch and bathe.
Similar to fountains, bird bath drippers offer a slow, inviting flow of water that petite birds like hummingbirds love. Drippers should be placed near rocks or leaves, so a hummingbird can decide whether they'd like to bathe directly under the water source, or by rubbing against a damp object.
Like fountains and misters, the sound of a water dripper will naturally attract hummingbirds. At Happy Gardens, we have a wide-ranging selection of dripper fountains you can add to just about any bird bath.
Make Your Own Bird Bath
If you can't find a bird bath you love online or in-store, or you're in the mood to create something all by yourself, try a DIY bird baths. Making your own bird bath is a relatively easy project, and there are tons of ways to customize the craft for your garden size, yard style and climate.
Pro tip: If you're going to make a bird bath from scratch, then you might as well optimize the water source for tiny hummingbirds. Paint it a bright color and ensure it's extra shallow!
Related: 10 Unique, Homemade Bird Bath Ideas
Add Perches for Preening, Drying
No matter what hummingbird bird bath you decide on, ensure you also offer hummingbirds a place to preen and dry off.
Why do birds need perches? They give birds a place to do, well, everything. Stand, play, climb, eat, groom, you name it. Birds tend to perch in a variety of places, so ensure there are multiple perches. Some will occur naturally on trees and shrubs. Others, like clotheslines, hummingbirds will claim for themselves.
Keep Bird Baths Safe, Clean Year-Round
Keeping bird baths clean, safe and sanitary is essential, regardless of what types of birds you're trying to attract. Here are some best practices to keep your birdbaths pristine:
- Empty basins, clean them, and then refill them often. Standing water can get dirty fast, so you'll want to replace it more than you think.
- Routinely inspect all water feature accessories for issues, like clogs or malfunctions.
- Ensure water levels do not rise after rainstorms, etc. as this can repel, or even endanger, hummingbirds.
A hummingbird bird bath should never be cleaned with a poison like bleach. A good scrub should remove any debris or contaminants. Then, try cleaning the basin with a mix of distilled vinegar (1 part) and water (9 parts). Our friends at the Audubon Society have a nice article on how to clean a bird bath if you need more information.
Where to Place a Bird Bath
Finally, if you're going to create a haven for hummingbirds, ensure you make it a safe haven. How and where you install your birdbath really matters. Yes, you want to attract hummingbirds, but you always want to make sure the area to which you attract them is free from predators.
Attract More Hummingbirds With Ideal Birdbath Placement
Birds, including hummingbirds, are looking for a birdbath that's placed at the right elevation. And it's not as high as you might think. Ground level, or a foot or two off the ground, is high enough.
Birds also want a shady space to cool off on a hot summer day. Plus, if a birdbath is placed in a very sunny area, the water in the basin may evaporate too quickly.
Finally, you'll want to be close enough to a power source to plug in any electric water features, like fountains or drippers. If you can't get power in your yard, you can search for solar powered drippers or a solar fountain.
Keep Hummingbirds Safe From Predators
Lastly, ensure the hummingbird bird bath you place is safe from predators. Cats, snakes, and even overly-curious toddlers pose threats to delicate hummingbirds.
Place your water source in a low-traffic area that pets and visitors do not frequent. Also, plant a shrub or something similar nearby, so that hummingbirds can retreat and hide if threatened.
About Happy Gardens
Happy Gardens curates an online collection of unique, thoughtful garden decor and merchandise for your yard or outdoor space. Whether you've been searching high and low for a special bird bath, a unique wind chime or a charming rain chain, Happy Gardens has what you're looking for. After all, each product you'll find on our site has been carefully chosen by our brilliant, garden-loving team.
Our beloved collections include a remarkable variety of top-rated, beloved products including rain gauges, painted bird houses, funky wind chimes and cool garden ornaments and statues made from metal, stone and more. Plus, our new line of merchandise is bright, exciting, and great for gift-giving all year long. Find the best wine glasses, tote bags and mini planters for all the garden, bird and plant-lovers in your life.
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