A year round supply of fresh water is critical to the survival of songbirds that frequent your yard. In addition to planting plants that provide berries, shelter and nesting materials and/or putting out seed to attract them, provide water for birds also. In the summer natural sources often dry up and in the winter they freeze.
Birds Need Water to Drink
Birds need water to drink. Dehydration is a greater threat than starvation in the winter. Typically, a bird must maintain a non-fat water weight of 70 percent to avoid dehydration.
Birds need water to digest food. They need lots of water to help them digest seeds and dry foods such as stale baked goods that you put in the feeder to provide them essential calories in the winter.
Birds need water to maintain body fluids. Birds do not sweat, but they lose body moisture water by excretion and respiration. While some birds live their entire lives without ever taking a drink, most require water and will die within a few days without it.
Birds Need Water to Bathe
Birds need to bathe in water for general hygiene purposes. They take dust baths to rid themselves of lice and other body parasites. They bathe in water to maintain and groom their feathers. Clean feathers are efficient thermo-regulators, providing outer protection against the elements to maintain a steady body temperature.
Some researchers believe that bathing also relieves skin irritation due to molting and eases the discomfort caused by parasites. Hummingbirds bathe by flying through a spray of water.