For the last few months, we've experienced long spells of drought and heat in Massachusetts, on the East Coast of the United States. At least thirty birds and three generations of squirrels and chipmunks are drinking and bathing here at any given time, and they're not alone. At night, we've seen raccoons climb clumsily up the birdbaths and knock them over.
We have a number of different water vessels. Keeping them filled is very important to us, but we don't always have time to thoroughly clean out the dirt, old food, and bird droppings. Not surprisingly, algae is more prevalent this year than usual, especially in the cement baths, where it hides in crevices. We really don't like that slime, and generally scrape it off with a wire brush, but it is time-consuming and we're probably not doing it as frequently as we should. We could stop using the cement and stone vessels, but many of those we're feeding prefer them over all others, so that's not our first choice.
Depriving the animals of water seems dangerous, even for a few hours on an intermittent basis. However, we're concerned that after having what looks like a refreshing drink and bath, they go off and become ill or die due to negligence on our part.
Is anyone aware of a consensus as to whether or not dirty birdbath water is worse than none at all?