Water

89Red-browFinchGSShallow water is better for smaller birds such as the Red-browed Finch

In times of severe water restrictions, a water feature in a suburban garden is hardly feasible. Nevertheless, water features do attract birds to your garden, because birds need water to drink and to bathe in. Ponds should be partially shaded, with overhanging branches for birds to perch on, and with rushes or other vegetation around the edges. If there is a log, branch or stone in the middle of the pond, it will provide an even more secure place for birds to alight near the water.

Bird baths of various shapes and sizes are a cheaper and more flexible alternative to a pond. It is best if they are out of reach of cats (at least 1 m above the ground, and 2 m away from a place from where a cat could spring), preferably hanging under a shaded branch or perch so that birds can enter and leave safely. Most birds like to have a good splash around. Different species prefer different depths and volumes of water. Small birds such as finches, thornbills and Silvereyes prefer shallow water (about 3 cm deep), so a relatively small, shallow bowl is best for them. Larger birds such as Crimson Rosellas like a large container with deeper water.

Water containers need regular maintenance to ensure that the water is clean. Currawongs regurgitate pellets into water containers, and Australian Ravens use them for dunking bread and other scraps. In summer, algae often needs to be removed.

This Pied Currawong is enjoying a good splash

It is important to ensure against cats taking advantage of the attraction of water features to ambush birds.

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