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Illinois hunting and fishing

A solar-powered Water Wiggler keeps water moving. Photo by Chris Young.

Put birds on a pedestal

June 13, 2011 at 09:26 AM

The State Journal-Register

Birdbaths can add a point of interest to the backyard garden and provide a source of water for wildlife.

And concerns they might create breeding opportunities for mosquitoes can be alleviated with regular care or special features that keep water moving.

Moving water not only discourages mosquitoes from laying eggs, it can have the added benefit of attracting species of birds that normally do not visit feeders.

“When I put moving water in my yard, my species list jumped,” says Wade Kammin, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited in Springfield.

Especially during spring and fall migration, birds that follow insects can be attracted to birdbaths.

Birds like warblers, vireos, tanagers and others can add visual variety and species diversity to the backyard garden.

Kammin says a simple mechanism is available to agitate or ripple the water

Agitators, like “water wigglers,” run on a battery or solar cell. Batteries last four to six months.

Prices range from $29 for battery-powered models to $42 for solar-powered versions.

“If you have a sunny spot, the solar-powered version works well,” Kammin says.

Mosquitoes require stagnant water to breed.

Even birdbaths without agitators can remain free of mosquitoes if the water is dumped weekly.

Mosquito larvae need seven to 10 days to mature.

“I dump them every other day,” says JoAnn Wehrle of Springfield. “I hate to dump (chemicals) in the water. I’d rather just clean it.”

Wehrle has two birdbaths in her garden, one in front of the house and one in back.

She says she switched to lighter weight birdbaths after being convinced by the neighborhood raccoons.

“I had the ceramic ones, but the raccoons kept tipping them and broke one,” Wehrle says with a laugh. “I got tired of putting them back on the pedestal.”

Her new birdbaths have the added advantage of a plug-in for a heater to keep the water from freezing during winter.

Wehrle takes care of the birds and more.

“I always put a piece of wood (or a stump) next to them so the squirrels can step up.”

Chris Young can be reached at 788-1528 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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