Because many birds do not eat seeds, suet or sugar water, there is another way to draw them in from the natural cover for close-up viewing. Water, in various forms, will attract the insect- and worm-eating birds that would not otherwise be drawn in. The simplest and least expensive way to provide water for birds is in a ceramic or metal birdbath mounted on a pedestal. As long as the water is clean, and changed frequently, birds will respond. A better solution may be to set up a birdbath with moving water that is pumped from one level to another. The sound and motion of water is a great attractant for birds and will draw them in from some distance to drink and bathe.
The presence of water, the third essential to bird life in a backyard habit, will attract birds that would not otherwise be seen. In spring and summer, when the neotropical species are in the North, birds such as flycatchers, wrens, robins, vireos, thrushes and even owls will readily come to water, but not to feeders.
The ideal water area for birds is a recirculating, multi-tiered pool in which an electric pump moves the water to the uppermost level, which allows it to flow back to the lowest level, and then back again to the top. As long as there are many shallow areas, no more than a couple of inches deep, the birds will use all the levels of water as it flows from one to another. There have been times when as many as 13 American robins or 10 cedar waxwings have used such a bird bath at one time.
Water is not only essential to the survival of birds, but its presence in a backyard habitat will guarantee the attractions of a whole different spectrum of bird species.