The title of this post describes the project that I undertook last weekend. I have always had a bird bath in the yard, but its ability to attract birds plus its man-made look left a lot to be desired. So I found plans online to build a bubbler to give the birds a more useful and aesthetic place to drink and socialize! (Or basically a bird pub.)
Our recent basement waterproofing work destroyed most of our landscaping and left a nice blank space of dirt in which to build this facility. It is also right by our feeder setup and viewable from the kitchen and living room windows. Please note: we had all of our utilities marked when our waterproofing was done, so I knew this was a safe place to dig. Even though this is a small project, don’t mess around with buried wires. Call the utility department and have yours marked.
A trip to Lowe’s later, and I had everything I needed:
I chose the smallest pond liner available, which at 9 gallons is still plenty large enough for what I needed. Cost: $20
10 feet of PVC tubing. I chose 1.5″ but the diameter doesn’t really matter as long as it’s decently sized. Cost: $10
A sheet of galvanized builder’s mesh, used for applying stucco. This stuff will be in the same section as lumber and heavy-duty building materials. Cost: $10.
A small fountain pump. I chose the Smartpond brand 80-155 gallons-per-hour, which again is more than enough for this project. Cost: $20.
Tubing for the pump. Make sure you buy some with an inner diameter that matches your pump! I chose 3/8″ inner and 1/2″ outer diameter. Cost: $5
The most important part of your bubble rock is the rock! This is the only thing I didn’t get at Lowe’s. Any landscaping supply yard should have bulk rocks available by the pound, and sine most people will buy them by the ton, they are surprisingly cheap. I chose sandstone because of its softness to drill through. Get a mix of sizes and shapes and preferably some with little divots that will pool water. Cost: $15
Finally, I needed a masonry drill bit (if it is labeled as a concrete bit, that should work too). I got 1/2″ to match the size of the outer diameter of the pump tubing. Cost: $10
Now the fun part!
First, dig out a hole the size of the pond liner basin. Make sure that the top lip of the basin sits above the ground level to serve as a barrier against dirt.
Next, I used a hand saw to cut the PVC into 7″ sections, which is the depth of the basin. Bundle them into triangles with zip ties. These will act as support columns.
After I bundled the PVC, I drilled holes in each bundle and zip tied them to the mesh in a triangle. I filled the basin with water, tested the pump, then cut a hole in the middle of the mesh to thread the tubing through. I folded the mesh as best I could to hug the outer lip of the basin, then cut a small flap for the pump’s cord to feed through and to offer easier access for maintenance.
The final step before putting it all together is to drill a hole in your stone. This will probably be a tedious, time-consuming, and loud step. I borrowed my father-in-law’s hammer drill to make the job easier. I can’t offer any comments about how long this might take with a standard hand drill. I also used ear plugs.
Stack your stones in a way that pleases you and your birds, and thread the tubing through to the top so that the water bubbles out like a little volcano. I only drilled the topmost stone and just threaded the tubing between the other stones. Cover the rest of the mesh with river rock (I transplanted it from elsewhere in the yard) and you’re done!
I haven’t actually seen a bird use the fountain yet, but I am confident there will be some cool trendsetter flying in from the neotropics. You can bet I will post here when that happens.
Coincidentally, I did get three new yard birds last weekend, although not because of the fountain. This Sharp-shinned Hawk was one of them when I saw it perch in a tree across the street at Lions Park. Another was a heard-only Eastern Phoebe. And the third was probably the most improbable yard bird to date. As I was leaving the house to go to work last Monday, in the 30 seconds it took me to get from the front door to my car, a low-flying Mute Swan buzzed over the roof. 10 seconds earlier or later and I would have missed it! Talk about an unexpected yard bird.