I keep going back to the birds in these posts (Exhibit A, B, and C), but it's with good reason. Not only do they eat the bottom of the food chain insects (bye bye mosquitoes!), and contribute to balancing the ecosystem, they provide an opportunity to actively learn. Me and my main squeeze have been taking more and more opportunities in the Summer heat to turn off the computers and leave the comfort of air conditioning to sit outside in the grass and watch the amazing assortment of birds as they congregate in our yard.
This newfound hobby translates into finding new, creative ways to attract birds on a small budget. My neighbor has a 5 gallon bucket she uses to collect rain water, and the house finches have been known to huddle on the rim, enjoying a dip and sip quite frequently. It's a cheap, adequate and functional solution. I've also used re-bar and a thrift store bowl (both of which were leftover materials from other projects) to make a birdbath.
I've seen instructions for topping a copper tube with a tea cup to create a pretty little cottage-y bird feeder, but I'm more interested in a sizable bird bath with a clean, modern aesthetic.
After a quick walk around the hardware store, I had my solution.
- Large, relatively shallow dish, if you're using glass, make sure it's not too fragile (I purchased my bowl from Old Time Pottery, a store that sells liquidated items from larger retailers; it was made from recycled glass, which I think makes it even cooler),
- 1/2 inch pre-threaded pipe, 36 inch length is adequate for height with allowance for sinking it into the ground (found in the plumbing section of the hardware store),
- 1/2 inch floor flange (found in the plumbing section found in the plumbing section of the hardware store),
- JB Weld or other permanent epoxy
- Strip of wood that can be damaged
- Hammer, sledge hammer, or other significantly weighted device to pound pipe into ground.
STEP 1: Clean off the sticker residue, especially making sure the flat base of the bowl is squeaky clean. You'll want the best possible contact between the floor flange and your bowl, sticker residue will prevent that. Once it's clean and dry, use a generous amount of permanent, water-tight epoxy to attach the flange to the flat base of your bowl.
- The floor flange has 4 holes for attaching the flange to the floor. I decided on this particular hardware because of the surface to surface contact it provided and the holes themselves allowed for even greater surface area for the steel to bond with the glass.
- We had leftover JB Weld on hand from making the rain barrels, so that's what we used. If you have a brand you trust, feel free to use it, no particular brand endorsement going on here.
Let the epoxy dry and harden according to the package. We let ours dry overnight just to be sure. Don't want it to fall off and traumatize the birds as they rehydrate, now do we?
STEP 2: Gather any personal frustrations you may have and pound the bejebus out of the pole and into the ground.
- Make sure you've got it where you want it to stay.
- Use the piece of scrap wood to buffer the blows from the hammer onto the pole to sink it. This will keep you from damaging the threads of the pipe--damaging the threads means you won't be able to put the flange on the pipe, thereby eliminating the actualizing of your new birdbath.
Sink the pipe into the ground far enough that it is steady and doesn't wobble, about 6 inches or so. Tamp the soil back into place around the pipe to secure it even more (2.b.).
STEP 3: Thread the flange onto the pipe, making sure it is secure, but don't over-tighten. The threads on the pipe are longer than the threads on the flange, so there is a possibility of breaking the dish if it's threaded too far.
Add fresh water!
- Using the flange and pipe makes it super easy to unscrew the dish to clean it as necessary.
- If you use a fragile dish for the bath, I'd recommend taking it inside over the winter if you are in an area where freezing is possible.
Sit back and relax, enjoy the show. It's even better with a handbook of local-to-you birds, so you can identify and participate in the nature that's about to happen!
(The links are to Ace Hardware's website. I bought my supplies from Lowe's, though these are easy to find pieces, and any good hardware store should have them. The prices I've listed reflect my actual purchases, but the links are for visual reference--just to give you a better idea of what to look for.)
Renee Garner has a passion to make things grow, although her brownish thumb wants her to believe otherwise. When mud pies aren't on the menu, you can find her doodling the days away at Wolfie and the Sneak.