In summer, the heat and lack of water not only affects us humans. The birds in our neighbourhood, sparrows, swifts, greenfinches and tits, also suffer from it. And they experience its ravages in a tragic way: in the heat of the June heat wave, hundreds of baby swifts, an insectivorous bird and a species protected by law, swallows and airplanes, fell to the streets of Córdoba and Seville.
The holes in the buildings where these birds house their nests became real ovens: which led many hatchlings to try to get out and, in many cases, to rush in and die or be badly injured in the street.
“There is little we can do to offer shade to the young birds that nest in the hollows of buildings when the temperature rises so much,” explains Luis Martínez, biologist, technician at the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife) and author of The extraordinary world of birds. But there is something simple that we can put into practice to help them cool off: place drinkers for birds on our terrace, on the roofs of buildings, on the windowsill (safely, so that it cannot fall onto public roads) or in the garden, if we have one.
The water helps the birds in the neighborhood to alleviate the effects of heat and serves them both to drink and rehydrate and to take a refreshing bath that allows them to lower the temperature. “The small free gesture of providing them with a suitable container with water can help alleviate the physiological stress imposed on them by the heat, and makes life a little easier for them,” adds Martínez.
1. Neighborhood birdbath: a clay pot dish
The simplest way to make a drinker for the birds in the neighborhood is to place one of those clay dishes that we use under the pots: we fill it with cold water between two and three centimeters (no more) so that the young and birds cannot drown. little. And ready! Better yet, that it is not enameled: we want sparrows and swifts to be able to support their feet without slipping.
In a small pot dish they can drink, and if we place several in different locations, all the better: that way we let them choose and decide where they feel safest. Another important key for all drinkers: if it hasn’t evaporated, the water needs to be changed daily.
2. Birdbath with dish or plastic container
If we do not have a clay dish for pots, the second option is to place a shallow and wide plastic container or dish: the water should be between two and three centimeters (cm) maximum. In addition, nearby we can mount a feeder for birds with a plastic bottle.
3. Can I use a normal dish for the birds to drink? Yes, but with stones inside
If we only have earthenware plates, like the ones we use at home to eat, we can also make a drinking trough to cool greenfinches, robins and house martins: but you have to place stones inside, to create an island where they can rest their feet safely and without slips.
These stone islands can also be placed in clay or plastic drinkers: they will make them safer and make it easier for the birds to leave when they have finished drinking.
4. Birdbath with dish
Another option to make a neighborhood bird feeder is to use one of those large yogurt containers, half or a liter and a saucer for clay or terracotta pots. If we don’t have it, we can also make it with a large plastic plate or a similar tray whose depth is approximately two centimeters.
We just need to make a hole in the yogurt container a centimeter from the edge, fill it with cold water and put the pot saucer on top. Carefully, we take everything and turn it over, so that the yogurt container is now on top, but upside down.
The water will come out and stay in the pan until it reaches the hole. As the sparrows and swifts drink, the dish will fill with whatever water is left in the yogurt container. And ready! It only remains to wait for the birds to appear and enjoy the spectacle of seeing them drink.
5. And a safe bathtub for the neighborhood birds
In addition to hydrating, sparrows, martins, swallows and swifts will appreciate being able to take a safe dip in cool water to lower their body temperature. It’s simple: if we have said that birds will be able to drink in a small pot dish, we can place a larger one so that they can bathe without slipping. Something that they greatly appreciate!
To be safe for different species, the water should be between 2.5 and 10 cm deep. There are birds like swallows that will appreciate being able to dive into a lot of water, so we can place the largest unglazed clay dish we find. We only have to put a stone in the middle, to act as an island. And ready!
If you don’t want to miss any of our articles, subscribe to our newsletters