Birds rely on water for drinking, grooming, and staying cool. But during hot summers and extended droughts, water can be hard to find. By adding a simple birdbath to your yard (you can make one from a cake pan!), you can help birds now and into the future as climate change makes summers in many areas hotter and longer.
• One shallow pan such as an old cake pan, not more than 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Or, use a flower-pot tray: the flat, shallow tray or pan that's used under a flower pot so it won't drip when watered. This should also be less than 2 inches (5 cm) deep.
• A few large pebbles or a flat rock
1. Choose a good site to place the bath. The ground should be level. There should be some evergreens or other shrubs nearby. Pick a site where you can easily watch the birds from a window.
2. Set the pan or tray down and fill it with water. Be sure the water is only about an inch (2.5 cm) to an inch-and-a-half (3.8 cm) deep.
3. Toss in a few large pebbles or a flat stone. These will give the birds confidence to enter the water because it will help them judge how deep the water is.
For more fun ways to explore the world of birds, including how to walk like a heron and how to draw tropical birds, check out Monica Russo's book Birdology (Chicago Review Press; $15.95).