Birds in New York may have to look harder for a drink this summer, thanks to enforcement of a health code that prohibits standing water - including the water in bird baths. According to the New York Times, four residents of New York City received citations for standing water in bird baths in 2011, and the ordinance will continue to be enforced this year. Violators are subject to fines up to $2,000.
The ordinance is intended to eliminate unhealthy stagnant water sources that can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and thus for West Nile virus. While the law has been on the books for years, its definition was broadened in 2011 to include "standing" instead of just "stagnant" water - standing water is any water source without movement, while stagnant water is typically filled with decomposing organic matter. A clean, fresh bird bath could still be considered standing water, but only a dirty one would be considered stagnant.
The city health department has clarified that the ordinance is not meant to eliminate bird baths, only to ensure they are well maintained and properly cleaned. There is no restriction on moving water baths, such as bird bath fountains.
How do you keep your bird bath clean and free from mosquitoes? Share your tips in the comments!
Warblers at a Bird Bath
Photo © bobistraveling