by Steve White
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
As we approach our long-awaited, warm spring season, you can be sure the conversation will turn to the black flies and mosquitoes that are a part of our landscape. Our attention span is short lived, however. Once the dog days of summer arrive, the topic will concern the stifling heat. Water, water everywhere….but how do I provide this necessary ingredient into my backyard without encouraging the breeding of insects?
Experienced backyard birders know that a reliable water source does wonders to attract all species of songbirds. Every bird needs water to survive, but not all birds eat bird seed. If you choose not to serve bird seed in the warm months, you can still attract those wild birds you love to see each and every day. Water is the answer.
If you are concerned about mosquitoes, EEE or West Nile Virus, there are many solutions available to practically eliminate these insects from multiplying.
There are many different types of mosquitoes and each species has its own method for egg-laying, hatching and maturing. However, one basic fact that is constant for all species – stagnant water is required for the maturation cycle.
Standing water has an invisible, tight film on the surface upon which a mosquito lays its eggs. If you take away this surface film, the eggs sink to the bottom and do not survive. The simplest method to eliminate the chance of eggs hatching on water is to empty your bird baths twice per week. This is enough time to interrupt the egg hatching cycle.
Moving water creates ripples that stop insects from trying to lay eggs. Without the surface film found only on stagnant water, eggs can not float and will not survive. There are many methods to create moving water. Drippers and fountains are the most common approach to this problem. Both choices create the rippling effect on surface water and are very attractive to songbirds.
In order to keep your wild birds happy and content, your best solution is to imitate a river stream bed as best you can. A simple device is available that incorporates two small paddles which constantly move the water in all bird baths. The two batteries last a couple of months, eliminating the need for running electrical cords over your lawn area. Many people enjoy this option for creating ripples, attracting songbirds and stopping the spread of mosquitoes.
Here is a marvelous, homemade solution. Put a sheppards hook next to your bird bath and hang an old watering can over the water area. Angle the watering can in such a way so as to create a dripping effect into the bath. This makes an attractive solution to stagnant water and adds a visual appeal to your garden. It’s a wonderful conversation piece, as well.
You do not have to give up attracting your birds in the warm seasons if you choose not to serve bird seed and feeders. The solution simply requires a new thought process. You will be amazed at the results each year.
Enjoy your birds.
Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve White is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website www.wildbirddepot.com. Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.