When we started pulling out plants and ripping up the lawn we got a lot of birds coming to peck at the bugs and worms that were suddenly a little more available to them. We also had what we thought was an odd occurrence. I’d look outside, expecting to see the flat expanse of dirt and instead, there were a bunch of little indentations in the ground, like someone had come along and scooped out some of the dirt and left little empty puddle holes behind. This went on for several weeks before I finally witnessed what was going on, the birds, so happy to have that bare dirt, were plopping themselves down and squirming around, giving themselves little dirt baths. They seemed to be having as much fun bathing in the dirt as they did in the water.
As we started planted there was less and less dirt for the birds. I didn’t think too much of it at the time until I noticed they were using one of my small clay flower pots that had dirt but no plant as a substitute. Since we’d already planted the yard there wasn’t much of a space for me to leave them a strip of dirt so I gave them a bigger pot to use. They line up on the arbor and hop into the pot. Every so often I top it off with fine dirt.
So if you don’t have the space for a bird bath or don’t want to hassle with one, leave some bare loose dirt for the birds on the ground or in a pot, and they’ll be happy.