The Water Drip

When we moved into our house, the previous owners had left a metal water trough. Our five acres border over 100 acres of public forest land in a place where even private land is pretty wild.  I’m excited to see the “backyard” wildlife we have.

At some point in the summer, I filled the trough and put it at the treeline visible from the house. Rob was concerned about it being a breeding ground for mosquitoes and dumped it. I hadn’t ever seen anyone use it anyway.  When I showed Rob a doorbell video of a moose drinking from a porch fountain in our town, we put the trough back out.

A Lonely Water Trough

Water trough
Lonely trough

This time, I put it along a wildlife trail in our woods and set up the motion-sensor camera to capture whoever might come by. After one week, I checked the camera. There were about 50 pictures – all birds, mostly chickadees and nuthatches. I’d just read about a photographer who uses a water drip in his yard. He raved about how the dripping sound brought in birds in droves.

I fashioned the water drip to attract birds by making a pinhole in the bottom of a gallon jug suspended above the trough. I made it from scrap lumber and wire from the garage. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

Water Drip Magic

The following week, when I pulled the trail camera, there were 1100 pictures on it! The deer were grateful for the consistent water source through the hot, dry August. This is a doe with last year’s fawn. We see them regularly, so its no surprise they were the first of many deer to show up for a drink.

New Bird Species

I saw species of birds at the water trough that I’d never seen on our property.

Water drip to attract birds
Cooper’s Hawk

A family of nuthatches makes daily use of the trough for drinking, bathing, and socializing.

A couple of new mammals also stopped by in that first week. I was so excited to see a porcupine here! (I had to talk with the dogs about porcupine etiquette, though).

Squirrel Gymnasium

The pine squirrels spend so much time running about the apparatus and resting on the boards (splooting) that I wonder what they ever did with their time before! Notice how the cotton string unravels and disappears through the series of pictures.

Rob and a friend made a more respectable drip apparatus. I think the pine squirrels preferred the old one, though.  A few more animals visited in addition to the regulars.

A motion-activated trail camera is a fun, affordable way to spy on local wildlife without disturbing them. No matter where you live, you’ll be impressed with what you see!


If you’re interested in purchasing or licensing any of the images you see here, please email me: SNewenham at, and I’ll make it happen.

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2 Replies to “The Water Drip”

  1. What a wonderful and interesting to see the world right in your back yard. Apparently following your talk with the dogs about porcupine etiquette, the dogs promptly advised the porcupines they probably should stay away from this watering place when they are out and about.

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