What makes a 'water source'? Recommendations?

tbt3(z9 FL)May 11, 2005

I am in the process of creating a somewhat native/wildlife back yard. Oaks and pines there already. Added Juneberry, dogwood, and redbud trees as well as perrenials like lobelia, scabiosa, phlox, and a variety of herbs. I have a small, shallow saucer that I try to keep filled (it evaporates quickly in the summer)that is suspended on my fence. Are there any other suggestions for a "water source" for wildlife? What do you think is the best? Fountain? Small pond? I don't have a lot of room and my professions deals with mosquito-borne disease, so I need something that I can easily treat or empty every week!

Thanks for your thoughts


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jillmcm(z6 PA)

I have shallow saucers about 2" deep and 18" across that I suspend milk jugs with a drip over - the birds and animals love them and are easily attracted to them. I clean them at least every other day, which is basically a quick scrub and swish. It's not tough to add to the daily yard routine.

I also have a 1/2 barrel pond with a small fountain and some feeder goldfish - I change the water maybe twice a summer and the fountain keeps it moving so that no skeeters can survive. Some birds drink from them, but its the frogs that show up from nowhere that we really enjoy :)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 11:28AM
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We have an extra large dog dish, made of heavy plastic. Its about 5 inches deep, and the basin must be 10 inches wide. The local wildlife loves it. It is very easy to pick up and scrub out. If necessary, we can even bring it indoors and wash it in the sink with hot water & detergent. The dish is positioned on a sidewalk, so it doesn't kill the grass.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 11:39AM
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DurtGrrl(z7 MiddleTN)

I have a flattish metal tub about 12 inches in diameter and 4 inches deep--it sits on a flat rock near one of the birdfeeders and is sort of at an angle so that it's not one big deep bath. The birds like it a lot! Last weekend I bought a "real" birdbath at the local crafts fair--leaf shaped and made of concrete, on a copper tripod. It's sturdy and pretty--hope the critters are attracted to it too! The pan I just spray out with the hose and refill when it goes dry or gets yucky--every 2-3 days.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 2:05PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I have one of those free standing 'patio ponds' that you can buy in many larger garden centers. I thinks it holds 39 gallons but I might be off. Its ment to say on a patio above ground but I have it in my shrubby hedge boarder I made running along my property line between the neighbors house and mine. Still above ground so that to empty it, I just tip it over. I put feeder goldfish in there that eat any mosquito larva, no problem. I also have some branches placed in there so that birds can sit on a branch and drink.

Its a very popular spot with birds visiting on and off all day. At night the local racoons go swimming in there as if it was their own private pool.

I also have bird baths and a half barrel type (plastic) on the other side of the yard which are also popular drinking spots.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 3:43PM
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tbt3(z9 FL)

Thanks for the insights. Birds and squirrels tend to visit my birdbath regularly. Does anyone have opinions on something at ground level? What additional animals could/would this attract? Should I have more than one water source so there is enough to go around? Is it worth it, or should I just stick with my elevated birdbath?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 4:27PM
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jillmcm(z6 PA)

I have found that my ground level baths get more action than anything higher - I have never had customers at baths much more than a foot off the ground. I have three saucers in the yard plus the barrel, and different birds like different ones. The chickadees and titmice actually prefer to drink from the ant baffles on my hummer feeders - go figure!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2005 at 4:43PM
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We have a cement bird bath bowl without the pedestal set below a gutter drain. I keep a mosquito dunk in it and fill it with a hose when it doesn't rain. Birdies love it.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 8:30AM
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susanswoods(Z6 VA)

For Christmas I got a heated birdbath. It's got a three-legged steel support and a wide shallow plastic dish that sits on it, about 3 feet off the ground. I put it on the brick walk in the winter so it was close to the electric outlet but seldom saw a bird use it. I have moved it into the rose bed next to the water faucet and it is in constant use now. I hose it out and fill it daily but this weekend hope to hook up the dripper I bought for it. I'll still need to rinse it out regularly but that should keep it filled. It's a blast to watch the birds splash and preen.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 4:41PM
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kate_rose(7a TX panhandle)

I have a 1500 gallon built-in wildlife pond w/ waterfall (moving water helps with attracting things) in my double lot yard. It attracts the local box turtles, tons of dragon flys & other insect as well as a myriad of birds. The most unusual is the sharp-shin hawk which has bathed there the past 2 winters. The squirrels & other local mammals also use it. We keep a red eared slider & a native mud turtle as well as native fish. We also have mosquito fish (gambusia) & have had no problems with mosquitos. We keep the fish in our rainbarrels too & they are equally free of larvae.

It sounds like you have room & if so I would definitely advocate a pond. It does take some maintenance but I would say it can't be beat for wildlife attracting ability. If you do make one be sure to put in a shallow area for the birds to bathe in.

We collect rainwater to fill ours & suplement with city water if absolutely neccesary.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2005 at 11:28PM
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jillhudock(z7 PA)

Chiming in with my two cents! Using the feeder goldfish is great, but they eat the dragonfly larvae as well as the mosquito larvae, so you may want to go with those mosquito dunks which supposedly only kill the mosquito larvae.

Also, placing a rock in the middle of any of the smaller shallow dishes will attract the butterflies to drink as well, since they need extremely shallow water.

Just wanted to point out that mammals and birds are not our only wildlife!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 11:32AM
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Nothing beats a pond with a waterfall. Most birds and wildlife are attracted to water by sound. I have a small pond that holds about 250 to 275 gal. with a waterfall. I added flat rocks to create a shallow area around the bottom of the fall so that birds could bathe and drink. Birds love this spot. I've seen birds in my yard that never before came to my feeders. I also love the sound and sight of the water.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2005 at 8:57PM
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