Birdbath on ground has advantages

Robins, cardinals, and many other birds love to drink and bathe near the ground, but there are other sound reasons for placing your flat-bottom, 16-inch pottery birdbath on two fire bricks laid flat and level -- or even on the ground.

The bath should be scrubbed weekly and, during the hot, dry months, filled daily. If your birdbath is on a pedestal, this is not easy.

A low bath is easily emptied, cleaned, and refilled with the garden hose or even with collected rainwater.

Set the bath close to your choice crimson glory, a clump of Siberian iris, or a newly sowed bed of salad greens so that the birds, when they ruffle and shake their feathers during and after their baths, will disperse moisture where it does the most good.

You can leave the bath in one spot for a few weeks and then move it to a drier spot. Before moving it, however, dump the murky water over the roots of a nearby rose.

The bath should always be in a relatively clear area, not close to dense shrubs in which a cat could lurk.

Birds love to perch on bare branches, even rocks, in the vicinity of their bath. One Eastern gardener set a fair-size maple branch firmly on the ground to support his moonflower. Because it is near the low bath, the birds use it regularly.

A second and smaller bath can be placed nearby to accommodate the smaller birds that wait patiently for the robins, jays, and cardinals to drink, bathe, and depart.

An upside-down Pyrex cover sunk into the ground is suitable; that is, if it is big enough to hold sufficient water. A large rock set close to it is an extra asset. You may see a robin run to it, drink, and then stand in it for a moment before he flies to the pottery bath for a dip.

And then there are the toads which must have moisture and shade during the heat of the day. You may find them settling under the pottery bath if it is on bricks.

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