Why Hummingbirds Are Avoiding Your Birdbath (And What To Do About It)

Birdwatching has become quite popular over the years, appealing to more and more people of every age, gender, and nationality. Arguably one of the best things about birdwatching is that, no matter where you live, there are always a wide variety of potential species to watch for. Hummingbirds are different from most other birds, as they're typically smaller and faster. Because they're such unique and beautiful creatures, we're anxious to learn what they need so we can provide it in our yards. One important thing to know is that hummingbirds will almost always avoid traditional birdbaths because the water is too deep. The good news is, there's a way to fix this problem with stones!

But that's not the end of the story. If hummingbirds have been steering clear of your yard, there are other, better water sources you could provide that will entice them in. Hummingbirds do not need to drink water, because the nectar and sugar-water they constantly drink provides them with enough hydration. However, they do seek out water for grooming and bathing purposes. For this reason, they are much more interested in a light mist, and the sound of water will draw them closer.

How you can improve a regular birdbath with stones

As aforementioned, a regular birdbath is too deep for most hummingbirds since they're so small, so they will avoid it in favor of a better source. One thing you can do to improve a normal birdbath is to add stones, which can also improve the aesthetics of it. Choosing right-sized stones and placing them strategically may be just the right touch to attract hummingbirds. The stones give birds a place to perch while dipping into the water and splashing around. They also provide some texture that the birds can grip onto, and they show them how deep the water is. Hummingbirds may feel less intimidated when there are large stones in it that rise up out of the water.

Additionally, you might be surprised to know that most birds actually prefer a shallow birdbath, so putting less water in it with a few well-placed stones will attract more birds overall. Smaller birds like large, flat rocks in particular. You can also use pebbles or gravel to line the bottom of the birdbath with, effectively raising the floor. Birds don't swim — they splash, and they prefer to do so from outside the water source. However, if your main goal is to attract hummingbirds, there are other water sources you could include in your yard.

Better options than a traditional birdbath

Hummingbirds love a light mist, so you might want to consider installing a mist system that will also help keep your patio cool in the summertime. Be sure to aim the mister at plants and broadleaves so the hummingbirds are able to rub up against them. This is something they like to do to help clean and groom themselves. Special misting sprinkler heads can also work well. 

Another option is using a slow drip to attract them, which you could add to a birdbath you already own. Again, the sound of the water dripping is enough to get their curiosity aroused. For the same reasons, consider a small fountain. One with bubbling water and several ledges or tiers where water falls will provide hummingbirds with areas to access the water from multiple places. 

The most important factor of a birdbath is to make sure the water is kept clean and fresh and doesn't start to attract insects or parasites. Make sure there are plenty of spots for hummingbirds to perch on and preen near the water source as well. You might even want to hang a feeder with nectar in it nearby, and you could also include the color red around the space. If there are hummingbirds in your area, with a little bit of adjustment and some patience, they'll be hovering around in no time!