I’ve heard it said that birds do not visit bird baths that are low to the ground. Not so. I have two ground-level facilities which have been featured on the cover of “Bird Word,” that trendy magazine for and by birds. My back yard, with its all-you-can-eat buffet of worms and marigolds, double bath, cool mulch and untreated grass, gourmet bugs and the shade of a burgeoning River Birch, has become a destination for the discriminating to take the waters.
Like the stately cardinal. Chanticleer amid the bobbing squall of little birds, who are of a more playful spirit, he tries the crowded circular bath and finds it distressingly plebeian. So he withdraws to the gracefully heart-shaped bath, donated by a local philanthropist, and on its rolled edge, aloof in crimson majesty, he surveys my back yard. The splashers keep a respectful distance.
I have seen six splashers at once. Like popping corn, they bounce back and forth between the two baths and splash with sloppy exuberance, untroubled by disapproving looks from more reserved guests, like the mourning doves, who have learned to come after the rollicking lunch bunch. The doves drink meditatively, bathe with decorum, then adjourn to the wet mulch under the River Birch, where they tummy down and doze, apparently blissful in the quiet.
I have seen a belligerent robin peck away all comers, until, alone, he closes his eyes and sleeps, standing dopily in the middle of the water like some ruined fountain.
I have seen hummingbirds sip and zip, chickadees with their tidy berets, finches of neon yellow and subtle reds, unknowns with azure under their wings. They check in and check out with chirpy abandon.
In some southern clime now, they reminisce and say they’ll be back.