The Power of the Drip

By Dave Hanks

Water is a powerful attractant. Birds especially like dripping water. The sound draws them to it. In Madera Canyon, Arizona I sat close to a faucet and watched two species coming to it. A Gray-Fronted Jay sat under it, watching each drop as it formed. It would open its beak to catch each drop when it fell. A Bridled Titmouse (PICTURED) would cling to the faucet and take each drop as it formed. The interesting thing was that only six feet away from the tap was a pan full of water. Yet, the birds eschewed it in favor of the dripping faucet.

Birds, also, seem to favor water in shallow puddles over deeper flowing streams or ponds. Perhaps, they feel more secure, and the water is more easily accessible. Also, if they feel inclined to bathe, the shallow water is more conducive.

Once, when we were in Southern Arizona at Organ Pipe National Monument, the government (in its misguided wisdom) forbade the setting out of water for the birds. The birds desperately wanted water. We emptied a pan of it on the ground, and the birds immediately flocked at our feet to probe into the newly formed mud, seeking any moisture that they could get.

We find that sitting by a water source, especially in arid areas, is one of the best places to set up our blind in order to be close enough for decent photography and intimate observation. One of the best spots we’ve found is close to home. The water troughs in North Heglar Canyon have been very productive for us.

(Awaiting the drip)