by Kim Nichols Messer
As fall approaches, the cooler temperatures will allow for more backyard time and bird watching. In addition to flowering plants and shrubs with berries, it is important to maintain a year-long water source for both birds and bees. Spring and summer provided sufficient rain for our gardens and trees. Fall may induce a false sense of security with the cooler temperatures. It is important to regularly clean and fill your bird bath throughout the winter. Birds will still drink and bathe even as the temperature drops. If the birdbath has a nice ledge around the bowl, bees will also stop by for a drink. A birdbath placed in a cooler shaded part of your yard will certainly see lots of activity. I also have a three tiered fountain in a different part of my yard which also welcomes the birds. The three tiers seem to promote a party-like atmosphere for many smaller migrating birds. The song birds who winter in our area seem to enjoy the moving water the most. The Warbler and Sparrow varieties gather in small groups and drink as if a party just broke out. They seem to enjoy some good clean fun. The Mourning and Inca Doves and their offspring, come by for a drink as well. Dove couples often return to the same nesting area many years in a row. A couple of good water sources will encourage this behavior. Also, organic gardening practices will provide the birds with lots of food options in addition to your plants. Let your yard be a sanctuary for birds by providing food and water all year long. Go green and enjoy!