Water in Your Backyard Habitat

Water is one of the easiest (and cheapest) things to provide to attract animals to your backyard habitat. And it is the most important. It is useful in attracting birds, butterflies, mammals and other animals.

It has many uses including:

  • drinking
  • bathing

and for aquatic species

  • cover
  • place to reproduce
  • place
    to raise young
stone water bath
stone water bath

Types of Sources You Can Provide

  • bird baths
  • mud puddles
  • damp sand
  • ponds
  • wetlands
  • streams
  • container water gardens

To decide what to add: Assess what you have and what will best for your mini-nature preserve.

Try to mimic the same sources animals will find in your local area. In my area, we have ponds, streams and vernal pools. My saucers duplicate the natural pools that form in the creeks and streams, not far from my

The photograph above shows the most popular saucer in my backyard. I have found that ground level naturalistic features are visited the most in my backyard habitat.

This inexpensive plastic saucer has a couple of rocks as landing platforms.
My local bird seed store sells replacement tops for hanging bird baths. I just bought a inexpensive, easily replaced saucer as my ground level

The white device in the photo is a “wiggler”. This device is powered by 2 “D” batteries. It has a little piece that hangs down and vibrates. This piece sends ripples across the saucer, just like a real pond. This movement attracts birds. A steady drip does the same thing.

If you have a natural source such as a stream or pond that attracts the animals you want, count yourself lucky.

If you would like create a backyard pond or wetland. These PDFs will help you.

Gear your Water Resource to the Animals that Visit Your Backyard Habitat.

One of the saucers in my backyard habitat, sits atop
a wooden stump about 12 inches off the ground. It is partially hidden
by plants and has a fence behind it that the birds perch on and survey the area before dropping down to drink.

No matter the source, birds like having rocks as landing platforms in
the dishes or ponds. For small birds, a bird bath shouldn’t be deeper than 3 inches.

Butterflies like mud puddles. An area that provides this will draw
various species to your nature habitat. The males in particular like to
gather at puddles, and sip up minerals. You can place damp mud or sand in a saucer to provide for them.

I know the raccoons and opossums drink from the dishes in my backyard
on their nightly rounds. I don’t mind because they are not a problem in my backyard. Feral cats also visit the dishes, particularly at night. The cats are not a problem because the birds are sleep in their roosts when they visit.

Creating a backyard nature habitat requires acceptance of all creatures, if you are to keep your sanity.

Where to Place It

I have hanging bird bath but the small ground pool, draws more visitors. I guess because animals don’t find natural streams and ponds suspended in mid-air, like the bird baths we sometimes buy.

I try to have at least one water source on the ground. Sometimes I use a solar sipper. This is a container with a inner black plastic bowl. It keeps the water unfrozen in the winter, as long as the temperature doesn’t dip too low. I have had water freeze in my solar sipper, though. I was worried that the birds would not know what it was. But, it took the Mourning Doves about 15 minutes to figure out how to use it. I placed it on the same wooden stump that holds a plastic

I use a plant saucer during the summer.

Adding water to your habitat is easy, inexpensive and quickly done. It can help you get started right away.

More Backyard Habitat Posts

What is a Naturalists Garden or Backyard Habitat?

Cover: Providing Shelter in Your Backyard Habitat

Places to Raise Young & Creating Your Backyard Habitat

Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Pollinators

Attracting Birds with Fruit Trees and Berry Plants


  1. Dear Donna,
    we just discovered your site this minute! Can’t wait to explore and thank you for your good work. We have recreated a vernal pool in our urban backyard. It is supporting tons of life, including tadpoles we transported from a drying out ditch. We are in warm So Cal and so now also have mosquito larvae. I called the mosquito dunk people and they say their dunks are safe for tadpoles but I am very hesitant given how delicate they are and all the tiny invertebrates in the water. Do you have any experience with this?
    Thank you

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