What Affect Do Outdoor Birdbaths Have On Birds And Humans?
Outdoor birdbaths are a great way to enhance the landscape of a front or back yard. They look beautiful, they provide hours of enjoyment to humans, who watch the winged visitors splash, play, drink and bathe. Of course, outdoor birdbaths offer great benefits to the birds who use them as places of rest and refuge. But most people are not aware that birdbaths have also been the subject of serious scientific study. One such study was carried out in Australia in 2015 and is called Bathing Birds: Summer Report 2015. The full report can be read here.
The authors of the study sought to answer several questions, including: How do birdbaths change according to the seasons? How do other gardening habits (the trees and vegetation planted, the number of native plants in the garden etc) influence the species of bird attracted to specific birdbaths? The authors of the study were also interested in observing how the Australian birds species visiting the outdoor birdbaths change according to the neighborhood where the birdbath is located.
Over 1000 people, or `citizen scientists` as the authors call them, took part in the study, with 580 of the 1000 people taking part in both summer and winter. It is interesting to note that most participants (85%) had the basin/pedestal style of outdoor birdbath, while only between 2%-4% of the participants had other types (saucer on ground, pot on ground, hanging bath/saucer, pond, water feature/fountain or others, such as swimming pools.
Here are the top species of birds that were noted as visiting the outdoor birdbaths, according to the number of surveys filed:
The authors of the study drew the following conclusions, among others:
In cities and suburbs, many smaller bird species have been driven out by encroaching development. While smaller native birds may no longer be found in these areas, participants in the study did note the presence of larger-bodied native birds in their outdoor birdbaths.
Native flowers in the area have a big impact on which birds are seen bathing in the outdoor birdbaths. Where more nectar-containing flowers are found, so too is a larger number of aggressive honeyeating birds.
As a general rule, smaller birds did better in rural outdoor birdbaths than in urban or suburban ones.
The behavior of birds (aggressive or non-aggressive, whether they congregate in groups, whether their calls are quiet or loud) influence their success. The authors found that generally, the more aggressive birds that defend their breeding areas tend to do better.
Because this study was carried out in Australia, the study refers to plant and Australian birds species specific to Australia. However, when reading the conclusions below, consider how similar conditions in your area might influence the birds bathing in your outdoor birdbaths.
Here are some recommended birdbaths for Australian birds, or the birds where you live: