Adding a bird bath to your yard is an easy way to provide drinking and bathing water for birds and other wildlife. There are two basic types of bird baths— aboveground baths, which rest on a stand or pedestal, and ground-level baths, which tend to attract a wider diversity of wildlife since they are easier for more species to access. Avoid baths with slippery surfaces, and be sure to keep the water shallow, no more than 2 to 3 inches deep. No matter which type of bird bath you use, be sure to clean it weekly with a mild soap solution, and provide fresh water daily.
Another good way to attract wildlife to your yard is to add a dripping or misting water feature. Drippers slowly add water to a bird bath from above. The noise of dripping water helps alert wildlife that there is a source of water nearby. Misters are connected to a garden hose and provide a fine mist of water that is highly enjoyed by hummingbirds and dragonflies.
Whichever water features you add, place them near shrubs or low tree branches to allow birds to escape quickly if hawks are nearby. If there are outside cats in your neighborhood it is best to set water features 10 to 15 feet from woody cover so that the cats cannot sneak up on birds and small mammals. In summer, a shady location will reduce the likelihood of the water overheating and will keep algae levels low. In winter, the addition of a heater can keep the water from freezing and becoming unavailable to wildlife.
Larger water features will attract a wider variety of wildlife and can be an aesthetically pleasing feature to your yard. A backyard pond can be a simple, shallow pool or a larger, deeper pond. Learn more about pond management here.