If you want birds to bathe in your yard, here's what you need to do

Q I have a white birdbath that the birds loved until it cracked. Now I'm using a pink one, but am curious why they do not like it as well as they did the white one.

S.D. Garden Grove, Calif.

A While birds are not known to be choosy about colors, there are other variables that may be repelling feathered friends from your birdbath, says Linda Cocca, natural history information coordinator for the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Here are some general tips to consider:

First, it may simply take awhile for birds to get used to their new birdbath. If you own a bird feeder, Ms. Cocca suggests placing the bath nearby so it gets noticed sooner.

Also, try moving the birdbath no more than 10 to 12 feet from a shrub. Birds like to bathe out in the open, says Ms. Cocca, but they need a hiding place to dash off to in case of predators.

If the new birdbath is made of some material besides terra cotta or concrete - both of which are nonslippery - try placing pea-size gravel in the bowl. "Birds like to have proper footing," says Cocca.

She also mentions a trick that she recently discovered. "Angle a small branch into the water so that birds will have a ledge from which to drink or plunge."

Another factor that could be bothering the birds is the water depth of the new birdbath - just two to three inches is ideal.

During the winter months, a coil heater, available at pet stores, will cause your birdbath's popularity to soar. As the season progresses, birds are increasingly on the hunt for unfrozen water to drink and bathe in.

Should your second birdbath crack as your first one did, a masonry sealer from your local hardware store will mend terra cotta or concrete, Cocca says.

Readers: Pose your questions and we'll seek out experts on home repairs, gardens, food, and family legal issues. Send queries to the Homefront Editor, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail home@csps.com

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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