The spring bird migration is in full swing. During the past few days, I have heard orchard orioles singing from the trees surrounding my house, watched a male indigo bunting at a feeder stocked with white millet, and even spotted rose-breasted grosbeaks feeding on sunflower seeds. These are but a few of the birds winging their way back home from their exotic winter residences. Although some of these birds will visit your seed feeders, others such as warblers and vireos will remain hidden in the treetops foraging for insects. If you want to catch a glimpse of them, you will need a powerful incentive to entice them away from their leafy feeding areas. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to install a dripper in your birdbath.
For reasons we do not fully understand, birds are almost magically drawn to the sight and sound of moving water. When you equip a birdbath with a mister or dripper you greatly enhance the chance it will attract the attention of birds that otherwise be difficult to see. I know folks that have spotted six or more species of warblers sharing a birdbath equipped with mister.
I have personally witnessed the drawing power of moving water in my yard. Late one summer I installed a dripper on one of my birdbaths. Up until that time, I had seen birds such as northern cardinals, tufted titmice, eastern bluebirds, northern mockingbird, eastern towhees, and others make forays to the birdbath to bathe and drink. However, I was amazed how much the frequency of their visits increased when I began using the dripper. In addition, later in the year I spotted birds that I not seen previously at the birdbath became regular visitors.
There are several ways you can create the sight and sound of dripping water. I use a device made just for the purpose. It hangs on the edge of the birdbath. A small hose runs from the device to an outside spigot. Water is regulated with a tiny valve located near the birdbath. This allows you to adjust the water flow ranging from a fine mist to a steady drip.
A dripper can also be made by simply hanging a hose over a branch above the birdbath. Adjust the water flow so that a very slow steady drip falls into the water below.
A dripper can also be fashioned from a plastic milk or soft drink bottle. Simply hang the bottle over the water. Poke a small hole in the bottom of the container. The size of the hole and the tightness of the bottle cap determine the rate of flow. The device works best if the bottle cap is loosened or removed.