What fun it is for us to enjoy morning coffee while being entertained by this communal bathing scene. It’s a great time of year for birding! Breeding season is over and the once territorial birds call a truce as they drink and bathe together. Bluebirds, sparrows, warblers, finches, chickadees, cardinals, and more… all are splashing together in the bird bath this fall. Birds like clean water and they find our birdbath to their liking. Each morning the water is emptied and the birdbath refilled for our feathered friends.
Why do birds bathe? No one knows the exact answer. I was taught it helped to rid themselves of parasites, but experts say it could be that AND it could be that clean feathers help them fly better. Following the bath, birds will land nearby to perform a ritualistic preen spreading protective oils over the feathers.
Many of the birds we see will soon be joining others for the trip to warmer climes. We’re happy to send them off with full stomachs and clean feathers!
I belong to the most wonderful art group that meets about every two weeks for two of my favorite pastimes, a potluck breakfast followed by a creative art project. Our last project, a leaf basin, was so much fun yet simple to do that I thought I’d pass along the steps. Although this was new to us, all our leaf basins were stunning. This would make a fun gift for a gardener friend, a teacher or a gift for your own gardens… nestled on the ground among the ferns.
A finished leaf birdbath
Sandbox sand, slightly damp
Small bag of Quikrete
Large leaves with good veins and ribs (banana, hosta, elephant ear, rhubarb)
Lay the plywood on the two sawhorses out of direct sun. Line with the plastic tarp. Mound up damp sand on the tarp in a dome. Lay the leaves over the sand and smooth out wrinkles.
With gloves on, mix the Quikrete and water with your hands to the consistency of a brownie mix, making sure all lumps are out of the mixture. It may look too dry, but pat the mixture several times. If the surface begins to shimmer with moisture, the Quikrete is ready. If not, add a bit more water and so on.
Mold the mixture about an inch and a half thick over the leaf, starting at the top and not extending too much over the edge of the leaf. Smooth out the surface and allow to dry for 24 hours. We sanded and cleaned up rough areas. Our leaf creations were then colored with acrylics and sealed.
With the small amount of Quikrete mixture left over, we made other forms of garden art. Using pieces of pine cone for the ears, we fashioned a family of mice for our gardens.