The Blueprint: How to Help Your Backyard Birds in Summer

Birds are perhaps the most attractive creatures that we can easily spot in our gardens. Their colorful appearance and pleasant singing betrayed them immediately. However, it is not certain that their presence is a pleasant and joyful sight for everyone. We often hear complaints such as “A starling has nested under the roof tiles, poops, and screeches!” and “Storks have surprised the chimney and are building a nest!”  “You can’t sleep because of the screeching of owls!” etc. But, besides that, if you still feel that you want to help the birds, you can follow my Blueprint: How to Help Your Backyard Birds in Summer. Have a nice reading!

wildlife, bird, tit The Footprint of Help the Birds in Summer

Put things in place

We have to put things in place and learn about the extraordinary usefulness of birds for their free insect and rodent extermination help to people, the antipathy towards them will surely change. If we accept the fact that even the common house sparrow feeds its chicks with insects and larvae that we do not want, that a pair of blue tits returns to his sons with insect food 475 times in 17 hours, that starlings flood fields, that mowers en masse outside the fruit ripening period and pick the seeds of weeds, or that a barn owl helps farmers by eating an average of 3 grain-crushing mice in one night, maybe we can understand why we care so much about bird protection.

If you feel that you want to help the birds, this post will provide you with many ideas on how you can do this.

You can read also my previous post about Nurturing Wildlife Diversity in Your Nature-Friendly Garden

7 tips to help birds in summer

Here are the 7 most useful tips on how you can help the birds during hot, dry summer days:

  1. The best and simplest drinker and bird bath is a plastic flower tray with a diameter of 40-50 cm (or larger), the depth of which is 5-7 cm, safe even for small species.
  2. The water in the baths must be replaced with fresh water regularly, daily, and the evaporated water can be replaced by refilling it during the day.
  3. Changing the water daily also prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs in the bath water.
  4. Every week or two, before the daily water change, it is worth controlling the growth of algae and even disinfecting the bath.
  5. If a dead animal is detected near the spa, disinfection should preferably be carried out every day.
    Water deeper than 5-10 cm is dangerous for smaller birds, so do not use a deep barrel or container filled with water as a bath; in the case of building garden ponds, create a shallow coastal section.
  6. Even in the water of 5-10 cm deep baths, it is worth adding a protruding branch, a larger stone with a sloping side, where the birds can stand comfortably and safely and control the water depth when bathing.
    If possible, use a bath that is large enough for a bird the size of a pigeon to bathe in.
  7. Making a bird bath and observing bird life in the bath can be a good environmental education and tourism development program.

Why and How to Place a Birdbath?

A nature-loving person is especially happy if he sees birds in his garden not only in winter, around the bird feeder but also in summer, during the high temperatures. This ought to be more than simply watching birds; the summer heat threatens their survival at least as much as the harsh winter frosts. We can therefore turn our garden into a large gathering place for birds, even in summer, by placing a suitably designed bird bath. The bath is most important in the warm, dry summer months, but the birds like to use it all year. Thrushes, robins, and blue tits especially like to bathe in them.

robin, bird, birdbath The Footprint of Help the Birds in Summer
European robin on the edge of the bath

It is important that bathing birds can also see the terrain, but a safe bush should not be far away because they do not fly so well with wet feathers. In the absence of this bush, cats or squirrels would wreak havoc. The design of the bath does not require a lot of imagination, the more natural it is, the more beautiful it is, and it will also be more favorable for the birds.

Be careful with the bottom

The bath should slowly start to sink. Put a flat stone where the bird could stand and land in the middle, where it would be too deep for it. Stream stones, gravel beds, and possibly introduced aquatic plants are excellent choices for this purpose. If we use a bath for the birds, we can also observe their behavior. Thrushes and robins are seen here darting back and forth under the mist. Then, after shaking themselves to the bone, they tend to their newly refreshed plumage.

bird, black, blackbird The Footprint of Help the Birds in Summer
Common blackbird is refreshing its plumage

Rainwater is also suitable for drinking; just don’t consider water barrels or tubs as drinking water. Such a large, deep surface of water often deceives the birds, and landing on it can cause them to perish. Conflicts with predators and cats can be avoided, and the use of a drinking fountain can be made safer by making a table pool. An approx. 1.5 m high, 100×60 cm field table. Plant low or trailing plants along the edge of the table to create an even more aesthetic effect. Anyone who has ever observed birds knows that keeping their feathers clean is a constant, vital activity. Knowing this, we can understand how important a good bathing place is for garden bird protection.

What is not suitable for a bath?

All open devices, such as barrels, rainwater collectors, buckets left in the yard, and open digesters—even improperly designed garden ponds with steep, slippery side walls and a depth exceeding 10 cm—function as potential bird traps. Thirsty birds, drawn to the glitter of water like a magnet, may slip into these containers while attempting to drink or bathe. Once inside, they are unable to escape due to their watery, heavy plumage and may drown.

Making the garden pond suitable for bathing

It is not worth building a garden pond just for bathing birds; it is too expensive for that, and its operation also requires a lot of work and expertise. But when designing and constructing decorative ponds, it is also worth considering animal welfare aspects.

In garden ponds with steep and slippery walls lined with foil, in addition to birds and small rodents, even a mammal the size of a fox, badger, or dog can have an accident. To avoid or remedy this problem, create a gravel slope from the shore into at least one part of the pond. This allows birds to move step by step from the shallow coastal areas to the deeper water. We can also use longer branches for this purpose.

water lily, water, pink The Footprint of Help the Birds in Summer
A garden pond with Water-Lilly

What should we use for bathing?

The bath is one of the easiest bird-friendly gardening methods to use. With little exaggeration, one can say that almost any object with water-holding capacity is suitable for a bird bath. A round or square, 40–50 cm diameter, 5-7 cm deep plastic flower base is best. Of course, fired ceramic bowls and coasters are also suitable, but they are much more expensive, heavier, and more fragile.

The design of the ground bath and its surroundings

If the sole purpose of the bath is to help birds and other animals, then you can start bathing almost anywhere, from ground level to the windowsill.

The biggest advantage of the ground bath is that the birds have enough space to practice more complex behaviors, and we can observe them, especially if there are sunny patches of grass, branches, and hiding places that provide shade. In the summer heat, the open, sunny bath and its surroundings are really attractive to birds if there is shade-giving vegetation or garden furniture in the immediate vicinity.

If possible, there should be branches nearby

Grooming, especially after bathing, is an important part of birds’ lives, and they spend a lot of time on it daily. That’s why an indispensable “furniture” of the bath is a feathering place that provides both a good view and a cover. Dense bushes are best suited for this, so install the bath near them if possible. 

Protection against parasites

In addition to feathering, birds protect themselves against external parasites with water, dust, and sun baths. In addition to the already mentioned bird bath, we can also easily set up a powder bath. Dry, fine-grained soil is required for the powder bath. Birds find such places less and less in residential areas covered with grass, asphalt, and paving stones. Fortunately, we can create a powder bath just as easily as a bath:
– by removing vegetation
– by loosening the soil
– powder bath with trays

dust bath to help birds against parasites The Footprint of Help the Birds in Summer
A birdbath combined with a dust bath is an ideal solution (photo by: Zoltán Orbán)

Mud gathering places for swallows

It is already well known that the nesting material of barn or cliff swallows is road dust and mud created by rain. Swallows intending to nest in residential areas with soil covered with asphalt, concrete, or paving stones find it almost impossible to find mud during the increasingly frequent drought summers. Therefore, near the swallows’ nests or where we want to host the little insect hunters, let’s set up a mud collection area!

The first step in the garden is to clean the soil of grass with a spade or hoe. After that, dig a shallow pit, approximately half a spade’s depth, and line it with plastic film. This reduces the leakage of water and helps to keep the mud collection area wet with less work. If you are satisfied with this, use a spade or shovel to chop up the larger lumps of excavated earth, pick out the roots, branches, and stones, and then shovel the “refined” soil back onto the foil.

Before watering, smooth the ground so that it slopes slightly towards the inside of the pit. Mixing dry grass with mud in an area with swallows proves especially useful as the birds incorporate the softened fibers with moisture, using them as binding material between the mud balls. If possible, use clay soil because it provides even better adhesion.

barn swallow at mud gathering place
Barn swallow in action (photo source:

I hope you enjoyed this blueprint: How to Help Your Backyard Birds in Summer!

Have a nice summer birding!

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