Wildlife Lesson: Bathing’s For The Birds

whos turn

“The bath is one of the places I prefer, certainly not a place I leave readily, a place where one can close the door and remove oneself, put oneself in parentheses, as it were, from the rest of humanity. It is a place for reading and thinking, where one’s mind wanders easily, where time seems temporarily suspended.”

― Sheila Kohler




A pond is a garden teeming with plants and wildlife.  One of the wonders of having a pond in the garden is being able to watch wildlife.  Frogs, toads, dragonflies and snakes all come to the pond to live and play regularly.  And if you are lucky you can see birds stepping into the pond for a bath.





Our pond has too much vegetation along the edge which prevents the birds from bathing.  We need to do a little maintenance to correct this problem.  But the bigger birds have figured out another way to bathe.  They sit in the top of the waterfall and bathe away.  I don’t think he wants us watching him!




male bather

It’s as if they have their own private spa there.  Taking their time with a luxuriating bath or a quick flap of the wings and they’re off.  But mind you, it is not a first come first serve outdoor bath.  No you have to be a robin to get the first chance to use it.  And male robins rule the bath.




lady robin bath

In the picture at the top of the post, our crazy robin momma is none-too-pleased with the catbird who thought she was going to take a bath.  So move over momma catbird, and wait your turn.  This momma robin is spending her second year in our garden so she has special bathing privileges.  I even spied her once covered in mud after she built a nest.  I was standing right next to the waterfall, but she was so desperate to get all that mud off, she hurried and didn’t let my presence stop her.





I start to see the bathing commence once the robin’s hit town in spring.  Sometimes I feel like a voyeur.  Right up until the tall perennial helianthus puts up screen, in early August, we can keep watching like peeping toms.  By mid-August the robins are almost ready to leave our garden for their winter home.





Robins and catbirds aren’t the only birds who use the pond for a bath.  We have orioles and an occasional brave cedar waxwing try it out.  But because of the force of the water flowing from the waterfall, only big birds can use it as a bath.





You can see how this bath is a great source of amusement for us.  Seeing this male robin all wet and poofed up makes me laugh.  And the males seem to be bath hogs.  Most will stay in the bath for long periods, then hop out, shake, stand there for a few minutes and bathe again.  I have seen some hog the bath for upwards of 20 minutes or more keeping the other birds out, even the female robins.  Females are too busy to take a long bath….sounds familiar doesn’t it.




you are all wet

We have a few other smaller bird baths in the garden for other birds, but secretly I think the other birds are jealous of those who use the big bath.  OK, I will admit the robins who live in or nearby our garden are spoiled, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I think even when we fix the pond so birds can wade in and bathe, the robins will still use the waterfall bath.  After all wouldn’t you want a private bath if you could have one.


I hope you enjoyed the bathing birds from our spring and summer garden.  It seems bathing is for the birds here in our garden.


With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.




I leave you with another thought about bird baths…actually taking a bath in general!  Feel free to download the photo and share.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-15.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

38 Replies to “Wildlife Lesson: Bathing’s For The Birds”

  1. I always love to watch birds bathing, they put their heart and soul into it, and my anthromorphic self is sure that they are enjoying it.
    A sight we see here which always makes me smile is cockatoos and galahs, hanging upside down from the telephone wires, with their wings outstretched during showers. It looks as if they are giving their ‘armpits’ a good sluicing….

  2. Adorable photos start to finish. I suppose it might only be anthropomorphizing to suppose the birds want a bit of privacy for their bathing antics, but it does certainly seem they’d prefer us NOT to openly watch. I have blue jays that visit a birdbath by our kitchen window and they seem to shift behaviors once they realize I’m inside watching. I feel a bit of a peeping Tom, no question. Not that it stops me… Great post!

  3. What a great post, Donna! I chuckled at several of your photos–bathing birds are so fun to watch. Like you, I think a pond is just vital for wildlife, for their needs and our enjoyment and learning. Thanks so much for your participation, it’s always a pleasure!

  4. Wow, what fun photography! You’ve caught the birds in their happiness for sure, even if I am like Soosie in my anthropmorphism! It’s like elephants when they take baths, they seem to have such a good time! I just got home from the pool and I felt a little like that today. Somebody told me I swim like a fish-:) Pure happiness-:)

  5. What a fun post! I love watching birds in my birdbath too. I wish I also had a waterfall like you, I’ve heard that the sound will attract even more birds than just still water alone. Have you noticed birds bathing in a group? I often see one starling start, and the splashing attracts everybody’s attention until six or seven starlings are all bathing at once in my single birdbath. Once they’re done, and are drying off on my dogwood tree, the smaller sparrows finally move in for a refreshing dip. 🙂

    1. Yes sometimes Jodi they will bathe in groups…and one bird will draw others in to give it a try…..I think the sound of the waterfall definitely draws in wildlife.

  6. Oh, this post made me laugh! If your robins are hesitant to have you watch them, just think how they’d feel if they knew you were taking pictures of them looking so scruffy and unkempt–and then posting them for the whole world to see! Fun, fun photos, Donna!

  7. Hello, you must have the happiest bird habitat. The images of the wet robin are adorable. I love watching the birds taking their baths, they look like they are having fun! Great post! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  8. I love watching the action at the bird bath. I often think I should be supplying tiny towels!!!!! 🙂 🙂
    Beautiful images.

  9. Isn’t it nice how retirement allows more time for spying on our bathing feathered friends? 🙂 The birds rarely use our waterfall on the pond but prefer the birdbath.

  10. Donna, i always see bird baths in temperate country gardens and i agree they are lovely. However, here in our country we don’t give the birds baths, i wonder where they do that as i haven’t seen birds doing it. During our dry season it is really hot and dry and in our place there is no body of water that they can use. We are in the uplands devoid of rivers nor lakes. But we have lots of birds, i really wonder where they take a cooling bath.

Comments are closed.