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Ciscoe says a bird bath is better than a bird feeder

Stop feeding rats and make feathered friends happy with a simple garden addition. #k5evening

SEATTLE — "I used to feed birds but then I attracted rats," said Ciscoe Morris, Seattle gardening expert. "So I got rid of all my bird feeders and thought all the birds are gonna leave my back garden."

But Ciscoe discovered that with all of the plants in his garden providing food to the birds with their seeds, what really attracted birds was water. So he put out bird baths. And this time of year, birds rely on them, so they need some extra care. 

"Especially in the wintertime, birds need water to take baths and to drink, so you've gotta keep your birdbaths clean to keep your little birdies healthy and happy." 

Ciscoe recommends blasting them out regularly with a high powered hose nozzle. 

"You want to do this every three or four days, if you don't, some yucky stuff starts to build up in there. And I haven't been doing it quite enough I have to admit. I think I need to do come extra clean up on this one." Ciscoe's birdbath had algae inside it, so he got out some special equipment to give it a better scrubbing: a wire brush and vinegar.

"So why do I use vinegar to clean the birdbath? Birds hate dish soap or cleaning soap, they don't mind vinegar a bit and it's a great cleaning agent."

He cautions that you shouldn't use vinegar to clean on grass, or in your garden, since it can kill plants. 

Mix one part vinegar to nine parts water, slosh it in the bird bath, and use elbow grease and a wire brush to get it clean. Soak it for an hour or so, then scrub if the stains are extremely bad. 

Once the job is done, dump the vinegar/water solution someplace where it can't damage plants, and then be sure to give the birdbath a good rinse with your hose. The refill, and wait for your feathered friends to enjoy getting clean in a clean birdbath. 

"Oh little birdies, look at all this nice fresh water," Ciscoe said. "You can be just like me, bathe regularly at least once a month, whether you need it or not!"

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