Watch birds flock to your place to bathe and preen. They can’t resist the sound of splashing water. Who can?
Bird Spa – the pool
A bird sized vanity table would not be out of place here. These winged beauties use water as their mirror and oh how they love to look at themselves!
Create a pool deep enough for them to see their reflection (really). A dark liner helps the water’s reflecting power.
Build a poolside dry area for preening – a must for any reputable bird spa. This can be a ledge at the border or a stone within, as an island.
Slope the spa down from the ledge to a ‘well’ at the far side for the pump to reside. Disguise it with an overlapping flat stone; this also provides another preening spot.
Right size pump
Pump size is a little tricky because it depends on the size of the spa pool as well as the length and slope of the stream. Sound effects are desirable, but not if it means a Class 3 rapids. Let’s keep it fun for them and aim for Class 1 whitewater, in miniature.
If you have the space, you can create a big splashy falls for major sound effects and put the spa and trickle stream to the side. Of course, this takes a larger pump, etc. For now, we will focus on the spa and water park.
A 750-1000 GPH pump is appropriate for a 3 x 5 foot x18 inch deep spa pool with 10 foot long x 2 foot wide stream. (As always, lay a protective layer beneath the flexible liner of the pool and stream.)
Slope the stream just enough for water to flow down to the spa pool. Around 10-20 degrees should do it. If you build the slope from a flat area, be sure to build it up enough to allow for the stream edges to have about 6 inches of rim to contain the water. The idea is to re-circulate the water from the pool, not to run bird spa dry!
Pump the water up to the stream head and spread the flow from the filter boxdiverter. One to three inches of depth is ideal for most backyard birds.
Splish-splash, more than a bath – the water park
Within a 10 foot x 2 foot pebbly stream, a lively play land for our feather-dipping friends can be created.
Make the water dance with strategic placement of stones within the stream.
It can be fun to arrange and re-arrange the splash and flow using different shapes and sizes, from pebbles to fist size.
A few larger flat stones create coveted spots for perching and preening. They also help direct the flow to create a little white water action for exciting entertainment.
A textured floor, believe it or not, is desirable for birds, too. Hard to imagine a slipping hazard for flying creatures, but who knows? One clumsy, whistle-blowing bird slips and OSHA sends an inspector to your water park – probably dressed as Big Bird…best to line the course with pebbly gravel.
Attractive backdrop and refuge
The sound of moving water is like the Siren song to birds. In Greek mythology, the rocky cliffs meant certain death to the sailors who were lured ashore by the Sirens with their irresistible voices.
Provide a backdrop of shrubs and small trees that are attractive, both for your viewing pleasure and for the birds. This also allows them to escape their “rocky cliffs”, which often appear in the form of cats…but sometimes frogs: Bullfrog Eats Bird YOUTUBE *