Thursday, April 30, 2009

Theme Thursday...Water (Water Works)

I live in an area that gets hot, hot, hot! Most of the summer, the temperature ranges from the upper 90s to 120 plus degrees. The old timers say that following the completion of Shasta Dam in the 1940s, the over all temperature was cooled by 10 degrees. I am talking about fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement kind of hot. Here, hydration of everything is important.


There are many bonds between humans and other living creatures. But the most powerful bond of commonality is water. Life is sustained by water. Animals and humans need it to survive. Like humans, animals use it for cleansing and drinking. Amphibians, fish, reptiles, and some insects need it for reproduction.

Wild animals can get water from puddles, dew on grass, raindrops on leaves, and from the food they eat. They need a habitat that includes a plentiful supply of fresh, clean, accessible water. If the canals or lakes are steeply angled, they are near useless to many animals. And to butterflies, free-standing water is undrinkable.

During the blasting heat of summer, a good water source is critical for wildlife. Since we are rapidly approaching that time of year, I thought I would share some of my summer projects with you. I set up water habitats in my yard. It is quite simple and fun to do. Children love taking an active role in making the habitats that will soon give life to many different species.


Birds



Photo: krukus Photobucket.com



Dehydration becomes a life or death issue. Especially for small birds. Birdbaths are a great way to provide water for animals. Additionally, they provide focal points for landscape designs and endless hours of viewing entertainment. Birdbaths are easy and popular for providing water sources. They can be purchased or made at home. You can even look around for naturally formed baths. Hollowed-out stumps of trees or rocks with wells in them can trap sprinkler and rainwater.


As you look for a location for your water station, consider the presence of predators. Placement should allow the bathers safe haven from sneak attacks. Bushes nearby offer bird perches for preening as well as protection. But take care to make sure the shrubbery is not low and close enough to turn the bath into a birdie smorgasbord for the neighborhood cats. That really isn't a Kodak moment you want young minds to capture. The lower the bath, the more open space around it is needed.


Photo: kariccio Photobucket.com


A distance of 15 feet away from heavy shrubs is good for ground-level baths, but taller baths can be located closer. Baths with textured bottoms allow the birds firm footing. A simple way to provide this is to layer a smooth bottom with sand or pebbles. Keep the water in the bath shallow, no more than two to three inches deep in the middle with gently sloping sides. Contrary to popular belief, size is not important. But if they are less than a foot in diameter, they will be primarily used for drinking only. Baths that are 24 to 36 inches in diameter will encourage a number of birds to bathe and drink simultaneously and party sumptuously.

Be imaginative. You can use simple things like tin or foil plates, ceramic or plastic saucers, or a garbage can lid. Birds are attracted by the sound of running water. You can purchase kits or make your own device. Punch a hole in the side--not bottom--of a bucket or large can, fill with water and hang it above the birdbath. The size of hole should let 10 to 20 drops a minute dribble into the bath. Covering the bucket will keep out debris and slow evaporation. Freshen and replenish the water on a consistent basis. Scrub away algae when you see it begin to accumulate. Algae just loves bird-fertilized water.


Butterflies


These beautiful, winged creatures can not drink the standing water that a birdbath would provide. Fluids are acquired via their proboscis, the long, tube that resembles a hollow tongue. The butterflies often "puddle" by sunny, damp areas and draw moisture from the sand or mud. You can create a watering hole for these insects with an inexpensive coffee can or like container. Using earth or sand, fill the container, dig it into the ground and add water. Rocks can be added to the sides and middle of container to serve as landing pads.


Frogs, turtles, birds, lizards, snakes, and raccoons



fallingstarz1 Photobucket.com


If you are particularly skilled and have the finances, a garden pond with aquatic plants and vegetation around its edges is ideal for attracting animals that use ponds. Irregular shaped ponds provide extra fingers of space for greater variance of habitat and are attractive to a number of species. When planting a pond, you want to offer four layers of vegetation from completely submerged to completely exposed.


You can create a man-made pond or purchase any number of structures at retail stores. Be wary of pre-made ponds that are steep. They were designed for fish but can be customized for birds by adding rocks that sit above the surface serving as landing pads. Stones can also be added below the surface. And a nearby tree with overhanging branches will serve as perches.


Your water work project will give you pleasure all summer long as you dance with nature in her infinite cycle of ebb and flow. A healthy yard attracts healthy wildlife. Healthy wildlife will yield a healthy yard. Ah, water, the gift of life.

42 comments:

Mrsupole said...

Hi Ronda,
Yes, I am okay I guess. I am just waiting for them to give me the date for the surgery on my shoulder. Good news is that they are not going to replace it as I was previously told, now they are just going to take out my clavical bone, repair the rotator cuff and torn tendon, cut off the bone spurs, and clean out the joint of the bursitis and arthritis. But the scarey thing for me anyway it that they are going to give me a morphine drip thingy. So this is what is scaring the heck out of me right now. Does this mean the pain is going to be that bad, that I will need a machine with pains meds going directly to my blood. I talked to a young girl tonight who said it wasn't that bad because she had to go through this after a car accident. But this does scare me. So I guess I am in a slightly depressed mood this last week. But I have not been posting because I cannot get signed into my account and so am not sure what is wrong with my stupid account. I saw where some others were having trouble, but not sure if mine is the same. I keep trying to figure it out and not sure why it is not working. Somehow I will try and get my TT posted. Might have to use another computer to do it.

So on to your TT. I love the picture of the bird bath and would love to put one of those in my back yard. I really need to get to work and try to do something back there. The foxtails have taken over and I need to burn those things to get rid of them. They keep attacking my cats. I also have never heard of the butterfly cans and think that is a great idea. So when my shoulder is healed than maybe I will try that too. I now want to go to Home Depot and see if they sell bird baths for a decent price. There is also a place in Riverside that sells garden statues and maybe they sell bird baths. But I do worry that I might be providing lunch for my cats. In the last two weeks they have killed three birds, but they are not eating them, which normally they eat what they kill. I do like it when they kill the mice or rats, but not the birds or lizards. I try to protect the birds and lizards because they are beneficial to a garden, but sometimes they just kill them anyway.

Water is so essential to all life and I love how you worked it all together in your post that it is something we all need to survive.

Well I am hoping this comment goes through, this sucks not being able to do anything and so I will keep working on it and apologize to everyone for not being able to do anything on the dang computer.

God bless.

Mrsupole said...

Hey it worked and my word verification was "hangsom", and right now I could hang whoever did this screwing up of my computer. So now I will see if it will let me post. I just gotta do it. And maybe I will actually be able to do some comments. Last Thursday I had so much trouble, I got a feeling this will be the same, but hope not.

Ronda Laveen said...

Good luck,Sherry. After spending the last week with computer issues myself, I feel your pain. The pain of that and the pain of your shoulder must make things near unbearable. Some people have a lot of pain with that surgery, some not so much. But even though it isn't as involved as originally thought, it is still very invasive. Hope you get your post up!

Marianna said...

That was amazing! I will definitely try it in our house, at our village. Should be fun :) When I was little I tried to build a bird house with a...carton of milk lol

Thank you Ronda! Happy TT!
xoxo

Leah said...

Really, really interesting, Ronda. Birdie smorgasbord! Oh dear...

And I adore your header photo.

Candie Bracci said...

Great post as usual Ronda!And great advices.
Thank you,we can do so much more with just some imagination,true!

Brian Miller said...

what a cool post...i am sure all the animals love you! nice using the imagination to her other people and animals. maybe if we all got creative we could solve more of the worlds problems?

Squirrel said...

I completely forgot about theme thursday even tho' I had water photos. Oh well... I love water features in a garden and keep the birdbaths clean and fresh for my visitors-- we get bunnies, woodchucks, deer, opossum and squirrels as well as lots of birds. On super hot days I put out a lot of seed and hook up a sprinkler set very low over a birdbath designed for the ground. The visitors line up to get drinks and play and it's very cute. I just do it for the hottest hour of the day. My man made pond fell into disrepair, now needs total re-doing so this is the post that will motivate me to create a new one this summer.

Poetikat said...

I spend the summer filling the birdbath with fresh water every morning. It gets pretty hot here too, though it tends to come in waves, punctuated with rainstorms.
That birdbath in the photo is gorgeous!
I commend you for such a nature-friendly post.

Kat

JGH said...

Great tips, here Rhonda! I already have a roasting pan set up as a birdbath, but would like to create more watering holes around my garden. Never thought about predators -- I have a fenced in yard, but still....

Also nice to know about the butterflies and how to accommodate them.

Love the thirsty dog photo up top!

Wings said...

I would love to have a garden pond. When I was a kid, my uncle had been able to build one of his own, where a stream flowed through the back of his yard. The water flowed in and filled it and then kept on it's way down to the rocks of the beach. Was a very calm, soothing place, and it attracted some ducks as well. Good times.

Cuppa Jo said...

Ronda, this is a great post. We had a bird bath in the house I grew up in, and I still have the pedestal that it say on, only the basin fell one stormy night and broke. The pedestal is more arty now, just sitting in my living room. Reading this post though really drives home the fact that I want to buy a house, and not a townhome or condo, but a house because I need a garden to putter around in, especially as my cats knock over any and all house plants, and if I put the plants up high, I forget about them and the die, so no house plants.

Anyway, I would really like to do something like this for this summer because it does get really hot for about 2-3 weeks. But since the swimming pool is being filled in, not up to code, right now, I will have to wait and see what the owner is going to put in its place--more garden or more parking?

And thanks for reminding me of our great commonality. That is actually quite profound.

Holly said...

Yet another great post for pondering. Spent my summers on a houseboat on Shasta Lake...thought everyone lived like I did as a child....imagine the reality check when I moved. Awh the sweet memories!!!

reyjr said...

We have a tiny pond on our front yard that used to have this one fish, but now it's gone. :D

The Silver Fox said...

Some great ideas here. I'm going to bookmark this post and share it with my sister. (She's the land owner in the family.)

tut-tut said...

What a great series of photos and ideas. I have a little stone birdbath that I have to remember to clean and fill.

Debo Hobo said...

Awesome!!! It gets pretty hot here as well, I carry water around with me every where I go.

I love the photos you chose the wise little cat in particular.

Michael Rawluk said...

That is a very informative piece of writing. I never thought there was so much to think about when placing a birdbath. It does make sense to keep them away from shrubs and cat hiding places.

Ronda Laveen said...

Marianna: I remember making milk carton bird houses too! I later advanced to trying to construct them out of wood. Not so good. My carpentry skills were less than stable. Then in jr. high, I moved on to bird taxidermy, but that's another story.

Leah: The header photo is of Maaco the Crazed taking a drink from the husband's hand.

Candie: It really doesn't take much time or money. Just a thought.

Brian: I think you are right, a little (a lot?) of creativity would help solve the world's problems. We get so stuck in the cube with our thinking we forget to search the outer perimeters for answers. Friends almost called me Bird Woman but that title was reserved for friend Jeanne. I am known more as Weird Animal Woman Who Thinks she Knows What they are Saying. But I do. I hear voices. What? Shhh, be quiet. I'm trying to write here.

Squirrel: You couda fooled me. When I stopped by your post last night, it looked to me like you were ready. I think the same thing happend to Mouse. There are no coincidences.

Poetikat: I thank you and so do all the little birdies at your hotel.

JGH: I learned the hard way about predators. After the fact, I did research on the correct way. And I didn't learn about the butterflies until recently. The header pic is my husband with Maaco the Crazed. I thought it such sweet sharing.

Wings: Yes, there is something meditative about ponds and water. Evocative of memories both good and bad.

Cuppa: Here's hoping you get your home with garden space. I think it is really cool that you kept your childhood birdbath pedestal to use as decor. Something old...

Holly: I know what you mean about growing up in this environment. Shasta Lake is only a few miles from my home. I live about 3 miles below Shasta Dam. It is quite a shock when you realize how for granted this beauty is taken. I've never been able to leave for very long.

Reyjr: Sounds like the pond is telling you that it needs a fish or two. Well...what are you waiting for?

S.Fox: Is your lair on her property? Come back any time Mr. Fox. Just don't taste the birdies. They're just for lookin'.

Tut-tut: How great you already have a birdbath to use.The time is just right to get it out and ready.

Deb Hobo: I thought the picture of the stalking cat was so perfect for illustrating my point. Thanks.

Michael: I know. Unfortunately, my research on placement came a little late and born of necessity. I was thinking: Oh, this is so cool. Look what I am doing for all these lovely little critters. The predators were thinking: Oh, cool. So nice of her to invite us to dinner. Awareness is everything.

Tom said...

i tried to make a small pond a few years ago, but it didn't work out too well...i filled it in...now i just have bunches of bird houses. Love your garden...and your answers to my quiz were a riot.

Dot-Com said...

Here's the deal - if you fill some rays of sunshine in a bottle (and some heat to go with them) and send the bottle my way, I'd be most happy to empty it when it gets here and stuff one of our rain clouds in to send back. That sould give us all a nice mix of heat, sun and water :-) I've had enough rain for the day *sigh*

lettuce said...

great post ronda. I put a little frog pool in my garden 2 years ago - and its so lovely to have water, even such a little pool - and tadpoles. Now I have other plans.... its hard to stop water-gardening when you start i think!

Baino said...

I have a bird bath inside the pool fence to keep predators away but somehow the birds prefer the swimming pool! We've had to cover it this year to keep the ducks off it, the poo on the coping stones and treat it as their own playground. Nice tip re the butterflies, I'm definitely going to do that. Love your frog pond too! Build it and they will come! Must get the 'landscaper' son out to build some watery habitat . .Im' just a bit worried it might attract snakes, they love frogs but not in that kind of way!

Ronda Laveen said...

Tom: Bird houses are just as cool. Your questions were fun. I felt like I was playing the lightning round of Family Fued. And the answere is...

Dot-Com: If you put in a No Lightning clause so we don't get forest fires, you have got a deal. What a great idea.

Lettuce: Yes, the little habits don't have to be huge, expensive projects. Just functional and fun. Glad you enjoy yours so much.

Baino: Yes, big birds are quite messy, especially ducks. But I guess they would think of the big pool as their own personal playground. So safe too since it is fenced. Snakes. Yes, they do love their water too!

Kris said...

That cat has the right idea!

Evening Light Writer said...

Ronda, I have a bird bath right outside my window and when I sleep with the window open on hot nights, I can hear birds in the morning spalshing around! It is a lovely sound. I remember very few things from the Anthropology classes that I took but one stood out..that societies that built near water were always more advanced. Interesting post, Happy Theme Thursday Sister.

Ronda Laveen said...

Kris: You are INCORRIGIBLE...and I love it. Your view of the world is definitely from the other side.

Mindy: What pleasant music to waken you. Wow! Hadn't thought about the societal angle of water. But it is true. Thanks for the reminder. Happy TT 2U2, sistah.

Mariane said...

Oh now ! You're post sound to me like an Ikea catalogue ! I can't resist it !!! I just bought a new condo (my first house) and you're post got me thinking I should now provide a beautiful and usefull environment for all my visitors birds. :o) You have a very nice way to put so much information :o)

Sandra Leigh said...

Ronda, your birdbath is lovely. There's a stream behind my house, and there are cats all over the place, so I take the path of least resistance, and let the birds use the Big Birdbath. We do provide nesting boxes, though.

Gabby said...

Darn it, another reason why I need to move out of my apartment! Now I have an idea of what to put in my yard when I move into my own home, whenever that is.

kitty said...

I wanna build a birdhouse!

Dakota Bear said...

Nice post. I like the picture of the cat under the bush.

I love have fountains in different areas around the house. I have one birdfeeder. Because I live in a wooded area there are all types of birds to watch and hear their songs.

Ronda Laveen said...

Mariane: Thanks, it is EZ to do. You will have fun.

Sandra: If I had a nice stream that near, I probably would let them use a natural source of water too. I'll bet they appreciate your nesting boxes.

Gabby: Hopefully it won't be too long.

Kitty: Jump right in. The water's fine~!

Dakota: That sounds so lovely!

Colette Amelia said...

Thanks for the lessons! I did not know that about butterflies. I had bad luck with a birdbath in the past...the crows kept using it to wash their bones, carcusses and other food they had scavaged.

I might just give it another go with all your great tips!

DineometerDeb said...

I'm too dumbfounded by your annual family tradition to comment on water....

Happy May Day to you too! ; )

Megan said...

What a lot of useful info here! Someday I hope to be in a position to use it!

And you are not kidding about the heat there. I've been, and I remember.

Ronda Laveen said...

Colette: Oh, my those crows can be so dominant. I didn't know that they wash their bones and carcuses. How interesting...if you don't have to watch it.

DineODeb: Oh, this is just beginning of the story. It gets better (or worse) depending on where you sit. Wait for October.

Megan: If anyone has been through Redding, CA in the summer, they never seem to forget. It stays with you like a burned butt on a heater.

California Girl said...

You have so much to say as do the readers that I am without a response! I was going to ask if you lived in Redding (deductive powers) then noticed your last post response and so that would be redundant. Good ideas for the garden. You are certainly right about the predator points. I hae a darling birdbath in my front yard but the birds never use it. Why? My cat and two dogs think it's their water bowl so the birds are scared away.

Ronda Laveen said...

Cali Girl: Yes, I lie in Redding. You have some very smart birds there. Maybe the use it when the dogs are sleeping.

Books,Coffee,etc.... said...

Hi! Ronda Laveen,
I really think that your post is very informative.
Especially, when it comes to mankind, womankind, animals and all "species," sharing a need for that one clear liquid that connect us and that is a refreshing thing called "water."Thanks, Ronda Laveen,
for sharing!

Ronda Laveen said...

Oh, Books & Coffee: Thank you so much. We are ALL in this together and all able to stay because of water.

tony said...

Thanks for the Ideas Ronda.The forcasters here in England say we are in for a long hot Summer, so your suggestions might come in handy for (usually) damp old England.