There's one feature that every birder must have in their garden if they seriously want to attract multiple species of birds. Water is a necessity of life for every living thing, and if you seriously want to attract more than just a couple species of birds, it's absolutely necessary to put in water features. Over time you'll find birds bathing and drinking frequently throughout the day. Truth be told, we already had two small ponds and four birdbaths throughout our garden, but we wanted to place another one very central and visible to where we sit and enjoy the garden. Strategic placement was necessary, as it can't be too close to where they spook with every movement of ours, and not too far where you can't make out the species. So we built it about 50 to 60 feet away from our deck. It's close enough to see all the species, but not too close where it keeps some of the other cautious ones away.
When building a pond for small birds, it's crucial to consider their safety. The small birds are fearful of water that's too deep to touch bottom. The deepest hole in our pond is about 3 to 4 inches. Many of the sections are anywhere from half inch to 1 inch deep. In the ninth image you can see the rock from the overhead view. There are some gravel bars for the birds to walk in as deep as they like, and there are no sections in this pond where they will get into any trouble. They like to feel bottom in shallow water, and are terrified of drowning, so keep this in mind when building your own pond. This isn't a fish pond, but rather a pond designed entirely to attract all the smaller birds up to about the size of a Robin.
I'm also looking to attract hummingbirds to this pond so I added a couple flat rocks into the fountain where the water will barely spill over their feet without much of a current. I'm sure I'll be adding a couple more shallow points throughout the pond section as well. Hummingbirds will bathe in water as shallow as a 16th of an inch, but not much more than about 1/3 inch, so keep this in mind when considering the tiniest of birds. These are the steps in building. (Hover over each image to get a description)
It's not entirely finished, but the main structure is complete. Now it's just a matter of dressing up around the holding tank to make it look a little more natural. Up to this point it took about 12 hours of work, and not really killing ourselves in the process. We'll be choosing some Siberian irises to go around the holding tank, and several other plants to go in and amongst the rocks. Within a couple months it should be mostly finished. This is the fun part, dressing it up to make it suit the environment, and then watching the birds enjoy it.
Total cost was about $225. We were extremely resourceful in using a lot of material, large rocks and moss that we have in abundance around our place. We purchased a $60.00 pump from Home Depot, $70.00 worth of rubber pond liner from a garden nursery and the water trough from princess auto which was on sale for $50.00 and holds 60 gallons of water, besides what the pond holds. We bought a couple bags of pea gravel and one bag of colored rock which we used to dress up the fountain section. Total length is about 15 feet long, including the fountain of one end and the holding tank at the other.
We've had water features for a long time, and once birds get used to them, you will attract them from miles away, especially in hot weather and in regions with limited water supply. If you're really serious about birding, you should really consider building a water feature of your own.
Much of the year I spend time attracting hummingbirds and other species to my garden. Please take some time to read and enjoy my blog. I hope it inspires you to build and create a beautiful place to attract birds of your own.