watching_birds-photo Watching, Attracting and Feeding Birds in New York
with Sam Crowe

Birdbath Care

Managing your birdbath keeps it attractive and safe for both you and the birds.

Change the water every few days (2-4 days are typical times) if it is not re-circulated through a filter system.  A simple flush with a garden hose is all it takes.  The amount of use by the birds will determine how often the water needs to be changed.  Frequent changes minimize pollution from bathing birds, will prevent mosquito larvae from developing and will slow the growth of algae.

The bath may need to be scrubbed once a week with a brush to keep algae at bay, especially during the summer.  There are products (offered by companies like Carefree Enzymes Inc. and others) that provide bird-safe water treatment to help control the growth of algae.

pedestal birdbath
If algae growth becomes a problem, use a 10% bleach and water solution to clean the bath.  Be sure to rinse thoroughly after cleaning with a bleach solution.  A 50-50 mix of vinegar and water can also help remove algae.

If the design of your birdbath supports it, a small pump or re-circulation system is a good idea.  A filter arrangement helps keep the water fresh and moving water will control the development of mosquito larvae.

Be sure to drain the birdbath in freezing weather, unless you are using a heater.  (A good idea in any case.)


Ducks Unlimited - The Bird's Friend

Ducks Unlimited is one of the best conservation organizations in the country.

Some people may find it strange that a bird watcher supports a hunting group like Ducks Unlimited.  If you are not familiar with the group you might be surprised that they are one of the largest and most successful conservation organizations in the country.  They have conserved over 13 million acres of habitat since 1937.  

The organization understands that without good nesting and wintering habitat for waterfowl there would not be any ducks and geese to hunt.  In fact, there might not be very many ducks and geese left at all.  And they put their money where their mouth is. Their efforts include the Duck Stamp program, hunting license fees and direct donations to different conservation organizations.  Ducks Unlimited is as much a conservation organization as it is a hunting organization.

Visit the Conservation page of the Ducks Unlimited web site for more information.

Common Goldeneye male breeding display

A male Common Goldeneye kicking up its heels. Hope the ladies are watching.

If you enjoy watching waterfowl, you might enjoy our waterfowl app.

Birding Quick Hits

A group of larks is called an exaltation, a group of geese is called a gaggle, a group of ravens is called a murder and a group of owls is called a parliament.

Learn about the Great Blue Heron.
great blue heron

Frequently Asked Questions

How quickly does a bird flap its wings?

The flapping speed varies by species and the situation.

Larger birds tend to flap more slowly than smaller species. Smaller birds tend to have lower wing surface to body size ratios and need to flap more often to remain in flight.

Soaring birds, of course, flap very little compared to species such as hummingbirds.

Birds in pursuit, or which are being pursued, are going to be flying faster and flapping more rapidly than if they are just moving from one location to another.

Some typical flapping speeds include:

  •     Wood Stork: one-to-two wingbeats per second
  •     American Crow: three-to-five beats per second
  •     Hummingbirds: These active little guys may flap their wings as many as 75 times per second!
  •     Common songbirds: Many typical backyard birds will flap their wings between 12 and 16 beats per second.

Bird identification

Learning to identify the birds you see is a fun and rewarding experience.  If you are a novice at identifying birds we have several options for you.

50 common New York birdsNifty Fifty Guides:  Our Nifty Fifty Guide to the Birds of New York is available on-line and in print.   It contains 25 common backyard birds and 25 additional common birds found in New York.  Purchase the print version.

The online version is shown below. Click on a corner to turn the page. has multiple resources for identifying a bird you have seen as well as information on improving your identification skills.   You can also send us an image on the web site and we will try to identify it for you.