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Just Do It!!!

 

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Experience and Photographs by Lexi Meadows - President of Southside Bird Club

SEE: ANOTHER TESTIMONYBACK

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Gretna, Virginia

People are always asking me questions about the water feature, so I was hoping to encourage them to "JUST DO IT"!!!

I have composed this to give some insight into the water feature I installed last summer. I've had several people ask how I like it and if it was successful in luring warblers to my yard during migration. Hopefully this will give you some information, if you are on the fence about installing one.

In January, Bob Schamerhorn presented a program to Southside Bird Club called “Attracting Birds With Water”. At the meeting I purchased his book "The Bird Spa" and began my project a few weeks later. I did a lot of walking on family farms looking for the perfect water rock. After several weekends searching one of my dad's farms finally produced a winner. My husband helped out by grinding the depression out some to get a little more depth than what was created naturally. About 1 inch is best, birds like very shallow water. This is a perfect solution if you find an "almost perfect" rock. Winter is the perfect time of year to go on a rock search. The poison oak /ivy is dormant and hopefully the ticks and snakes are too!!! I would like to say ideal installation would be before Spring migration starts but that didn’t work out for me. So if any of you are thinking about it……HURRY UP AND GET STARTED!!!!!!

So…did it work? Did the water feature bring new birds to my yard that I could only dream of before???? Let's see…

My first unusual bird showed up shortly after construction was complete-- Louisiana Waterthrush in late June. Most certainly this bird was attracted to the water. My husband woke me up early one morning and said there is a bird on the water feature I have never seen in our yard before. We do have these in our area but they are generally found on creek bottoms. As summer progressed the usual birds loved the water feature…Brown Thrashers, Catbirds, Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings… The list is very long. The best thing is you don't have to fill it up on hot days. Since the water is underground one fill up lasts several weeks.

In late August a gorgeous Yellow Warbler showed up one morning as I was fixing breakfast. You can only imagine how fast I was running for my camera!!!!! He only stayed a couple of minutes and then he was on his way south. Fall Migration had begun. Two days later I looked out my kitchen window and my heart almost stopped! A beautiful Yellow-throated Warbler was on my peanut feeder. He went back and forth between feeders and the water. He loved the nut blend from Raywood as well as shelled sunflower and suet. This guy stuck around for about 5 or 6 days. In September I had another Yellow-throated Warbler, I assume it was a different bird.

Several weeks later in mid-September I had another new bird. A male Cape May Warbler enjoyed a good bath. It was a cloudy day and the light was poor so I was still excited to have proof this bird was in my yard. Also on the same day another newbie showed up. When I took the photo, I wasn’t sure what bird it was. I actually took the photo to use with my field guide to ID the bird. It was a Lark Sparrow!!! I posted the photo on Flickr and posted on VA listserv and started receiving emails congratulating me on the find. Apparently this bird is very RARE for our area. I was contacted by VARCOM (Virginia Avian Records Committee) and asked to fill out an application for review, including photos so the bird could be in the Virginia records!!!!! WOW!!!!! A cloudy day and the photo was taken through a window, but still excited to have proof he showed up. I recently received an email and the photo of the bird and some information will be featured in the Virginia Society of Ornithology magazine.

Much to my surprise two days later I had more new birds, first a Female Cape May Warbler was in the dogwood above the water feature. I never got a picture of her in the bath but did get a few of her in the tree. A little while later right before dark a very unusual black capped bird was bathing. I ran for the camera and was thrilled to have a Wilson’s Warbler. Also, very unusual bird for our area!! Just a few moments and he was gone…headed south!

Then one week after, in the late evening I noticed another warbler in the dogwood above the water feature. I was able to get a quick photo but was not able to identify the bird. The photo was emailed to others more knowledgeable than I. The consensus say a Blackburnian Warbler. Again I had another unusual visitor.

In the first week of October, a Tennessee Warbler came to visit. I had never seen this bird before and I had to post the photo to get others opinions on the ID. These warblers can be very tricky to identify. Especially in fall.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am at the success of this water feature during fall migration. While I enjoy all the seasons I am anxiously awaiting spring migration. I don't think it was chance all these birds showed up this year. I truly believe the moving water along with the dripper feature attracts the warblers. All of the photos were taken after glancing out the window and seeing something different. I constantly wonder what I missed when I wasn’t looking.

Also in the summer, I scared away a Turkey by walking out the back door. He was about 4 feet from the bath when I saw him. I am convinced he was coming in for a drink.

I have had Yellow-rumped Warblers pass through my yard before but I have never had a group of them stick around. I have enjoyed watching them bathe and feed all winter.

Above is a photo of the finished product during summer. Vickie Fuquay at Raywood helped me choose the plants surrounding the rocks. Some are evergreen that will provide winter interest and cover. Others will show their glory during spring and fall. I think this works well since small birds love cover. I also planted a couple of flowers that will attract hummingbirds. They did hover over the bath last summer but I never caught one taking the plunge. I will hope for that this year.

If you are thinking about doing this…my advice is DO IT!!!!!!!

I have enjoyed it so much. Warning: Housework may go undone and dinner may be late…I have a hard time not looking out the window for hours at a time. Make sure if you build it that it is located in an area that is visible to you from indoors.

Happy Birding!!!!
Lexi Meadows - President Southside Bird Club

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Louisiana Waterthrush

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Yellow Warbler

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Yellow-throated Warbler

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Cape May Warbler

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Lark Sparrow

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Wilson's Warbler

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Tennessee warbler

iPhotoBirds Ca;endar

THE BIRD SPA

The Birdbath Alternative • DIY Installation Instructions and Parts List

Birds, like all other animals, prefer habitats that meet all their basic survival needs: food, shelter and WATER! They depend on water to condition their feathers for flight, to help maintain their body temperature, for hydration, and for hygiene. A landscape with a consistent, clean running water source will attract both a greater number of species and a higher count of birds. This especially applies to the many migratory and insect-eating species too. The Bird Spa is a low maintenance water feature, designed specifically for birds. Over seventy-five plus species attracted at a single location in central Virginia.
AVAILABLE ONLINE
AND AT SCHEDULED EVENTSSEE: TESTIMONIES. • MORE INFO: THE BIRD SPA

THE BIRD SPA BOOKLET
Instructions and Parts List
$15.00

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