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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Region: West Virginia Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias
Gardens in Buckets Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 9, 2017 11:04 PM CST
Do any of you guys make your own bird baths? I'm just looking for ideas instead of spending $200 on a fancy new one.

So far I have a tortilla container sitting on old wooden a chair in my yard. It's every bit as classy as it sounds.
Keep going!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
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tarev
Feb 10, 2017 12:03 AM CST
I did not plan to have an actual birdbath, but when my fountain was still running in Spring of 2012, it attracted the birds nicely. I think they really like running water feeling at their feet, and dashing in through the curtain of water, that middle part is rather shallow too, so they can easily drink. The rest of the fountain is deeper, so it would be good to have stepping stones or a perch when you plan your homemade birdbath.

Thumb of 2017-02-10/tarev/b7764b Thumb of 2017-02-10/tarev/5ba01c
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Region: West Virginia Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias
Gardens in Buckets Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 10, 2017 12:10 AM CST
So pretty. Thank you for sharing.

I've thought about purposing an old sink basin.
Keep going!
Name: Morgan
IL (Zone 5b)
Winter Sowing Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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molanic
Feb 10, 2017 11:33 AM CST
Re-purposing something is great. There are quite a lot of bird baths being sold that are pretty, but not good bird design. Birds don't like them too deep or slippery. A large terracotta plant saucer set on the ground works very well, especially with a flat rock inside. I have seen people use lids to metal garbage cans turned upside down, which is a good depth too.

We have a lot of success with birds using our bird pool made out of an old concrete terrazzo shower basin (drain filled in with concrete). It has been in place for 20+ years. At first it was simply set on the ground and we filled it with the garden hose and cleaned it out by sweeping the water out with an old broom. It is wide and shallow enough that it doesn't crack in the winter when the water freezes.

We pounded a pipe into the ground next to it and bent it to hold a one gallon jug over the pool. Poking a tiny hole in the jug and filling it with water gives you several hours of a fine stream or dripping water sounds that attracts warblers when they are migrating through.

In recent years I decided to run a hose from the basement sump pump all the way back to the bird bath to refill it regularly . That noise also attracts birds. I then dug out the area around the bird pool and used rocks and logs to stabilize the soil when the birdbath overflows into the surrounding area. I planted the low spots with rain garden plants which are doing really well. A little too well actually so that now in the summer when the plants fill densely, the bird pool is a little too close to all that vegetation. Birds don't like that because predators can hide there. I have to rearrange things a bit to fix that problem.

If you search for diy birdbath or sump-pump birdbath there are a lot of good pictures to browse through in google images or on you-tube. If you have a sump pump, it is a good way to handle the water and not let it go down the storm or sewer drain. I also have plans to hook it up to rain barrels to store excess water. Special considerations must be made for those of us in areas where it freezes in winter though.

I could blither on more, but I'll just put up some pictures instead for now. These are from spring-time, since it is easier the see before the plants fill in.
The hose is under the rocks at the front right corner of the pool.
Thumb of 2017-02-10/molanic/094b25
This is how I run the hose back there. The house and sump-pump output is at the bottom of the picture. I run most of the black hose through the flower bed where plants quickly cover it. Where it crosses the grass I dug little trenches and buried it a couple of inches, so I could mow over it.
Thumb of 2017-02-10/molanic/4d06e2
Here you can see the whole rain garden area and my super classy jug hanging from the hook!
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Here it is in summer with the plants filled in. Looking a little ominous to birdies I think!


Some visitors:
Yellow-rumped Warbler
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Mourning Warbler
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Cedar Waxwings
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I'm going to try and embed video of the sound of the sump pump running. Changing the location of the pipe changes the sound. Sometimes I have it flow between two rocks to get more of a waterfall effect.

I have another video of a robin enjoying the fresh water which shows the depth of the water pretty well. I think they are the birds that enjoy it the most. Robins love baths!



Name: Melanie
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Bookworm
Region: Florida Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Salvias
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mellielong
Feb 10, 2017 1:23 PM CST
Wow, Morgan! Just...wow! I tip my hat to you.
Name: Ronnie (Veronica)
Southeastern PA (Zone 6b)
Zinnias Morning Glories Annuals Bee Lover Dragonflies Butterflies
Hummingbirder Birds Salvias Region: Pennsylvania Garden Photography Dahlias
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luvsgrtdanes
Feb 10, 2017 1:43 PM CST
Wow is right!! That is really a great set up Morgan I tip my hat to you. I tip my hat to you. I tip my hat to you.
It happens in a flash, but the memory of it last forever. It can not be borrowed or stolen, and it is of no earthly good until it is given away. So if in your hurry you meet someone who is too weary to smile, leave him one of yours, for no one needs a smile quite as much as he who has none to give...

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Feb 10, 2017 1:50 PM CST
Jai - I use plant saucers. I used to haul the big cement birdbath bowl up from the lower garden to set on the patio with an immersion heater. This year I bought the biggest plastic pot saucer I could find and am using that instead. It's a couple of inches deep and I can still use my birdbath heater in it over winter. I've also set a couple of broken bricks in it for the birds to perch on to drink. I get various finches and an occasional cardinal drinking out of it.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Morgan
IL (Zone 5b)
Winter Sowing Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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molanic
Feb 12, 2017 12:38 PM CST
I think 2 inches deep is usually what is recommended, even at that depth though some of the small birds still appreciate a little rock or something inside. They like to have some rocks or bare branches nearby too. I've stuck quite a few dead branches and twigs in the ground near the bird pool. The birds like to perch on them and it makes that area a little less accessible to cats. I've found some large flat rocks in the water is also appreciated by insects. They like to drink the water off the rocks or use them to creep towards the water. When it's chilly the rocks also hold heat from the sun and make a nice basking surface for dragonflies and butterflies. Most of my "rocks" are re-purposed and some aren't even rocks. Most of the border to the rain garden is broken up concrete chunks. Once it gets a little weathered it blends right in.

I've been thinking of making some kind of fountain with an electric pond pump from a garage sale that I've had rolling around the garage for many years. It would be so cool if I could make something special with fine streams or mist that the warblers and hummingbirds would like. Hummingbirds are supposed to love mists, but mine never seemed interested in the one I tried before. Maybe it is because I only have one or two resident females in the summer that are nesting and territorial, and not large numbers of them. Anyone seen this bath for hummers on you-tube? It looks like the base is just a galvanized tray from a dog crate. Probably just using an old aquarium pump too since it doesn't have to be very powerful. Those hummers are so cute!

[Last edited by molanic - Feb 12, 2017 12:44 PM (+)]
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Region: West Virginia Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias
Gardens in Buckets Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 13, 2017 12:21 AM CST
Thank you all. This is why I love these forums. There are so many good ideas and wonderful pictures. I really appreciate it.

Today I realized that the fire pit which came with my house might make a really good birdbath. It is waterproof on account of being fireproof and it has its own stand.

If I have the energy this spring I hope to clear out a big spot beneath several of my trees and create an area specifically for the birds.
Keep going!
Name: NebraskaVickie Alexander
Franklin, NE (Zone 5b)
Franklin, NE ~ Vickie
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NebraskaVickie
Mar 9, 2017 1:02 PM CST
Love some of these ideas. I think a flat tray at ground level, surrounded by rocks and such in a natural way is just what I am looking for. At this point I will do the cleaning and filling manually, but will be looking into pumps and hose. If I can find solar powered pump then all I need is a circulating set up and a tank I can fill. ( There may be some out there or easy to make from some DIY site by now. Worth searching for! ) Thank You!
Heirloom seeds and plants only!
Name: Deb
Buffalo, Minnesota (Zone 4b)
Region: Minnesota Birds Cactus and Succulents Hostas Hummingbirder
dmurray407
Mar 10, 2017 11:12 AM CST
tarev said:I did not plan to have an actual birdbath, but when my fountain was still running in Spring of 2012, it attracted the birds nicely. I think they really like running water feeling at their feet, and dashing in through the curtain of water, that middle part is rather shallow too, so they can easily drink.



Tarev, could you please post a picture of that fountain? Did you make it yourself?
Deb
Name: UrbanWild
Kentucky (Zone 6b)
Kentucky - borderline of 6a & 6b
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Native Plants and Wildflowers Miniature Gardening Organic Gardener Frogs and Toads Dog Lover
Birds Vegetable Grower Spiders! Hummingbirder Butterflies Critters Allowed
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UrbanWild
Mar 15, 2017 9:22 AM CST
After years of taking care of all of my parents' bird watering stations I can offer a few points. I live in an area that gets a LOT of hot sun during the warm months. Since their waterers don't receive runoff, most of the deposition of nutrients occurs atmospherically at the water's surface. Light + nutrients and water make for perfect algal conditions (ponds too!). For that reason, I prefer watering basins with smooth bottoms. Smooth bottoms also help with cleaning to prevent the spread of bird diseases among individuals. Even with agressive scrubbing every couple of days, several of their rough-bottomed basins leave pockets of algal cells that don't take long to explode. As we just started in this property, I have two water units...a hanging copper dish on a shepherd's crook type pole, and a fired-clay basin atop a wide concrete block stand. The latter stand's base is not permanent, we just wanted to quickly add options while we make progress towards aesthetics. We bought the clay dish at a local bird store. The glaze on bottom is very smooth and easy to clean. We spent about $34 on the dish...not exactly within our scrounger budget but certainly not what some spend. Eventually we will make a brick paver patio and incorporate plants, sundials and this basin. You can see the dish among our clay pot depot here:

https://garden.org/thread/view...

Bottom line is that both of ours work and have low maintenance requirements. Both are currently movable with little effort. Neither require electrical input.

The one thing I would like to figure out is a solar option to keep them from freezing in winter.

After taking care of my folks' pond for 20 years prior to them having me removet it 2 years ago, I don't see us going that route. It was just too labor intensive. The choice became one of labor over healthy pond fauna vs chemical control. I have never seen pond chemicals safe for healthy diverse faunal communities despite manufacturer claims to the contrary.
Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly, and pleasantly scented plants.

"Si hortum in bibliotheca habes, nihil deerit." [“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”] -- Marcus Tullius Cicero in Ad Familiares IX, 4, to Varro. 46 BCE
[Last edited by UrbanWild - Mar 15, 2017 6:33 PM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Mar 15, 2017 9:32 AM CST
dmurray407 said:

Tarev, could you please post a picture of that fountain? Did you make it yourself?


Hi Deb..oh no, we bought the fountain at a pottery outlet...really very heavy, glad our neighbors helped us unload that.

Thumb of 2017-03-15/tarev/c79797

Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
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Garden10
Mar 29, 2017 6:57 PM CST
I'm sorry I don't have a picture, I left stuff behind when I moved, and this won't win any awards for sophistication, but have you tried the three flower pot one?? Pick three exact flowerpots/planters, put one straight up, the other one upside down on top, seal them together with caulk, then put the third on top of the second right side up, sealing them together underneath, then get a dish to place on top, and there you are! Tons of room for creativity, with any luck, you can put one together out of stuff you find at Goodwill or the Salvation Army, you can make a little one for chickadees or a big one for those five-pound robins who think they don't have to share...they're great for little corners of the yard, as accent pieces, a one of a kind, and the birds love them!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
[Last edited by Garden10 - Mar 29, 2017 7:20 PM (+)]
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Name: Julie
Seattle (Zone 8a)
Birds Hummingbirder Region: Pacific Northwest
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Joolie
Apr 7, 2017 1:14 PM CST
Last year hubby and I installed a tiny bird pond in the yard using a kit we got from Dr's Foster and Smith (search for "bird pond"). The kit included a pump, a molded plastic waterfall thing and a plastic sheet to create the 'pond' part. It was $70. You provide the stones that go around the pond, which allows you to spend a lot or a little, depending on what type of stone and how much. It's the stone that's the most darn expensive part of most fountains. This way you can even do it very slowly, so long as you have at least something to hold down the plastic liner.

It has been basically the most amazing thing ever. We've seen nearly every kind of bird imaginable in our area come to the pond. Also unfortunately we've gotten rats and raccoons, but there's just no way to avoid that. Invite one, invite all! We also get a lot of neighborhood cats who prefer to drink bird-butt-flavored water rather than their own boring water.

Here it is just after we put plants around it:
Thumb of 2017-04-07/Joolie/037c8d

Thumb of 2017-04-07/Joolie/1102c7

Here it is last fall after the plants grew in a bit and the leaves dumped everywhere.
Thumb of 2017-04-07/Joolie/7daef6

The little birdhouse-looking thing to the side is a Nest camera. It doesn't take the BEST videos for this purpose, but it's been fun. I've gotten a few fun videos of bird parties.





I really recommend the heck out of this thing. $70 is a lot less than many fountains cost, and there's a lot of flexibility about how much you pay on top of that, but what you get when you're done caters both to bigger birds like robins, blue jays and pigeons but also small birds like chickadees, nuthatches, kinglets, juncos, sparrows, finches, wrens, etc who use the shallower waterfall pools.

The only thing I wish I could change about the kit is the color of the molded waterfall thing. I wish they made it in a stone-grey color instead of black. It's hard to disguise, especially with bug-eating birds like robins, who gleefully rip away the moss I tried to use to cover the plastic. Also, misstepping with moss placement drains the pond! Woops! D'Oh!

I also purchased a filter for this, to help cut down on potential leaf clogs. We've had to clean it out a few times so far, but it hasn't been too frequently.

We basically love the heck out of this thing. It was a lot of work, but worth it.

Edit: Fixed the videos, werps I can copy and paste honest.
[Last edited by Joolie - Apr 7, 2017 1:17 PM (+)]
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Name: Morgan
IL (Zone 5b)
Winter Sowing Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Photography Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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molanic
Apr 7, 2017 2:36 PM CST
That's really cool Joolie! All the different depths of pools is very much appreciated I'm sure. Is that blue thing a mister? I want to make another bath or pool with an electric pump too. I'm kind of limited as far as placement though since it would have to reach the one outlet outside.

I get raccoons at my bird pool too. Last summer for a period of a few weeks, they were pooping in the water every night. The smell was god awful. Why do they do that!
Name: Julie
Seattle (Zone 8a)
Birds Hummingbirder Region: Pacific Northwest
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Joolie
Apr 7, 2017 2:50 PM CST
Thanks, @molanic! Yes, the blue thing is a mister. I was trying it out to see if it enhanced anything for the birds and realized *I* was digging it for hot days. After we put in plants, we put in an automatic watering system and hooked up a mister off of that, which sprays a mist over the pond every morning during the summer months. It helps keep the water levels up in the pond, which drains or evaporates at varying rates depending on weather, leaf litter and whether a robin has decided to make me a nice water-bridge with moss.

Late last year I bought a doohickey to scare off raccoons. They're super cute but they wreck everything. I have a video of an entire family sitting in the pond like it's a raccoon hot tub. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?... ) They dig through the rocks and stuff and it worries me they'll puncture the pond lining. I found the doohickey on Amazon, it was something like... yard sentinel or... something. I can't remember. I can remember that it's battery operated and has a light and motion sensor. The last time a raccoon came to the pond, it flashed at it and made ultrasonic noises, and the raccoon tried to ignore it but eventually it got spooked and left. I haven't seen any raccoons on the videos since. It doesn't seem to do anything to scare off the rats, though.

We actually haven't yet properly sorted the electrical business yet, which makes me cringe but there's not much I can do but nag, and I hate doing that. We're using a very long extension cord that snakes around the pergola (so it's partially protected). It's probably not the safest thing in the world, but the cord is rated for outdoor use and the ends are protected from moisture. My dad is an electrician but that basically means another outlet might NEVER happen, haha.
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
Bookworm Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Garden Photography Garden Art Birds Region: New York
Herbs Container Gardener Annuals Dog Lover Butterflies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Garden10
Apr 7, 2017 2:56 PM CST
Joolie, that is beautiful, what a lovely space you have! Did you ever watch the British show Ground Force, hosted by Allan Titchmarsh? It was a garden makeover program, and their water feature specialist, a woman named Charlie Dimmock, used to put in pools like you did, your description of your work brought it to mind, and I used to watch her and say, my God, that's a lot of hard work where a simple mistake could really make you pay, big time! Kudos to you both! I'm toying with the idea of hanging a bucket over a bird bath with a pinhole in it to drip on the birds, but I don't want you to be intimidated by my sophistication and creativity...

I'd never get past finding a rat in it... D'Oh!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Ronnie (Veronica)
Southeastern PA (Zone 6b)
Zinnias Morning Glories Annuals Bee Lover Dragonflies Butterflies
Hummingbirder Birds Salvias Region: Pennsylvania Garden Photography Dahlias
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luvsgrtdanes
Apr 7, 2017 3:20 PM CST
I really like that pond Julie, may need to find a place for one Thumbs up
Maybe you can you overlap some flat stones on the waterfall thing to hide it some. That's what we did with our pond form so you couldn't see the black edge.
It happens in a flash, but the memory of it last forever. It can not be borrowed or stolen, and it is of no earthly good until it is given away. So if in your hurry you meet someone who is too weary to smile, leave him one of yours, for no one needs a smile quite as much as he who has none to give...

Name: Julie
Seattle (Zone 8a)
Birds Hummingbirder Region: Pacific Northwest
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Joolie
Apr 7, 2017 4:25 PM CST
Thanks, guys! No, I did not watch that show, @Garden10. Sounds neat though, I may look it up! Luckily, this kind of pond is pretty forgiving. Any mistakes can be undone. Nothing is screwed or glued in place. Anything can be picked up, filled in, etc. If we wanted, we could pack all of it up, fill the hole with dirt and toss grass seeds over it all and in a year you wouldn't even know it was there.

The rat thing, that was rough, because the combination of installing a pergola and adding this water feature culminated in roof rats getting up in our eaves (and then through an odd circuitous route, into our crawlspace) and having babies. It was really stressful for the hubby and I, but I found someone who would go along with my no-kill mandate and we were able to evict them peacefully. There were some funny moments, but I'm glad all the rat drama is over. A few rats still come, mostly at night (though during the winter when it was freezing, they'd come during the day too), to get water and scavenge under the bird feeders. Lucky for them, they're really cute.

@luvsgrtdanes There was a lot of rock drama while putting this together, since my husband is very particular about things and he spent quite a lot of time rearranging the rocks. I wanted the rocks to cover the waterfall but eventually I just closed my mouf and let him arrange things until he was satisfied. Though, even if the rocks overlapped in some places, it would still not cover everything. I'm just happy the birds like it. They don't give two figs about what it looks like! It's drinkies and baths! Hilarious!

My favorite moments of last summer involved parking a chair near the pond and sitting still long enough for everyone to come out of hiding. I managed to get to watch a robin take a bath only three feet away from me! It really was amazing. On the hottest day of the year, I had a yard party (of COURSE it turned out to be the hottest day of the year!) and even though my yard was full of people, my pond was swarmed with all kinds of birds in the water.

In the wintertime, I got to see birds I've never seen before, since it was a rare source of flowing water. We had an unusually cold winter, with day after day of everything being frozen solid... except for my pond, because of the flowing water. On days that the main part of the pond was nearly frozen solid, hubby would go out with a bucket of hot water and make a hole. (This was to make up for procrastinating on putting in the heater, lol!) So even the bigger birds got water, and if they were very determined, a bath. :)

The only bird this pond doesn't service is hummingbirds. The water is too deep and too low to the ground for them. I'm going to look into making the type of hummingbird bath someone else posted a video of somewhere earlier in the thread. I saw it last year and went YUP I NEED THAT IN MY LIFE so we'll see how that goes. However, hummingbirds still do enjoy the pond because of the bugs it attracts. In the first video I posted you'll see a hummingbird come over and zip around - she's catching bugs! Lovey dubby

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