I have three watering areas in the yard for wild birds: one large composite bath, a terra cotta bowl on the ground, and a smaller cement one under the big spruce tree in the front yard. Each bath is situated in a spot that is sheltered from wind and overhead predators with safe cover nearby—but not so close that ground predators have easy places to hide.
I don’t feed seed and suet all summer. When everything wakes up, I figure the birds should be able to forage on their own. I’ve found that water attracts birds just as surely as food. I have a small heated bird bath that I keep filled and plugged in all winter with a branch in it so the birds can drink without getting their feet wet. The birds use it as well as the deer that visit after dark.
In the summer, I have a lot of bathing activity. The large bath in my shade rock garden area is easily viewed from the dining room window. It attracts crows, grackles, starlings, sparrows of various types, as well as cardinals, blue jays, wrens, robins, mourning doves, indigo buntings, gold finches, rose breasted gross beaks, and purple and house finches. The flowers aren’t the only bright and colorful things in the garden.
Water punctuates my day. When the hot weather arrives, sometimes I have to brush out and refill some or all of the baths several times a day. It is the first thing that I do each morning and often the last thing I do each evening. It’s not a bad way to spend the summer. Begonia