The earth is parched with our drought and high temperatures. I’ve taken to regularly watering the lawns and trees. My poor trees. The garden flowers are being well taken care of. The dryness has not stopped the Japanese Beetles from munching on my marigolds. In these dog days of summer with the heat turned to high and only a few “teaser” showers that don’t amount too much, there is nothing more inviting than an opportunity to enjoy cool water. I suggested to my neighbor that we should run through the water from the sprinklers like we did when we were kids. But Catherine thought it might not be as much fun as it was in the old days. Did you run through the sprinklers when you were a kid? Great summer fun!
Surely, the wild birds are enjoying my bird baths. They get cleaned and refreshed with cool water often. And I know those birds are in the trees watching. No sooner do I walk a few yards away after rolling up the hose when there is a robin, a finch, a chickadee or sparrow sipping a cool drink. There is nothing easier and more economical to bring wildlife to your habitat than fresh water.
It’s quite interesting to observe the bathing habits of different bird species. Hummingbirds love to fly through a mist or rub against wet leaves. Smaller birds like chickadees and gold finches don’t trust the depth of the water in the bird baths. They prefer to frolic in the water on leaves as well, although I have spied them splishing and splashing in shallow water on very rare occasion. The house finches do a ring dance. I’ve seen up to six of them in a circle, head to tail, and in unison they splish. Then, they splash, splash, splash. Then they all take a few steps forward and move to new positions in the circle. And around they go. The cadence goes something like splish, splash, splash, splash, cha-cha-cha; splish, splash, splash, splash, cha-cha-cha. I’ve even seen the red-winged blackbirds in the pool. They like to come, splash a bit, then take off. The robins used to be my favorites to watch. I didn’t think there was a bird species that enjoyed a good, cool bath and could frolic more vigorously in the bird bath than the robin. Some people say it’s the cardinal or the bluebird. I don’t agree about cardinals and I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing bluebirds in my bath. But this year I think I’ve found a species that rivals the robins. It’s the catbirds! The catbirds have been coming around more frequently over the past three summers. By now they know where I hide the suet feeder in the tree near the deck, so they’ve become summer regulars. And boy oh boy, do they love a good bath! They can splash up a storm with the best of them! And last but not least are the mourning doves. They gather to perch on the edge of the pool in the evening. Sometimes they just sit in the water. They seem to want to bathe but don’t quite have the same knack for it as the others. They dip their heads in the water and manage to toss a few drops in the air. Then they try to flutter their wings, but that proves awkward. Finally, they manage to get the hang of it and get wet. That’s it. The doves just make themselves wet.
It’s a long way to winter. I’ll have one heated bird bath out in the brutal, biting winds of January. Yes, the birds do bathe then. Some will be bathing in the warm waters of Central and South America and the Caribbean. Others remaining in the frozen north will still need to drink fresh water and keep their feathers clean.
For now, I won’t think about winter. I’ll just enjoy the splishing and splashing of my avian summer air and water show.