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September 10, 2020

A Wildlife Guzzler Gives Your Wildlife a Helping Hand

Installed Wildlife Guzzler
Doe drinking from bird bath
It’s dry out there!

The drought has returned to our neck of the world making supplemental water sources important.  Interestingly, the drought boundaries are pretty granular, weaving this way and that.  As it happens, The Fat Rancher’s ranch is in an area defined as “Moderate Drought.”

Texas Drought Monitor shows what areas in Texas are in drought conditions.

A wildlife guzzler is (a supplemental water source for wildlife) are not only popular with the critters, but an essential oasis during these droughts.

While drought appeared to break a couple of years ago, it’s been pretty dry this year.  Even the deer have decided that a drink out of our bird bath is preferable to the available alternatives.  And while the Fat Rancher likes to think of himself as generous, I’m not ready to accept use of our swimming pool as a critter watering hole.  And that is exactly what it has become in the early morning hours…

Photo of racoon drinking from pool.

This has prompted us to build some wildlife watering stations; So called wildlife guzzlers.  See a Texas Parks and Wildlife publication on wildlife watering holes here.

Making the Wildlife Guzzler

My first try was with blue food-grade barrels.  However, this presented issues with mounting spigots into the thin poly tank. Not to mention that they are butt-ugly eyesores.

As it happens, Costco (Good Ideas Rain Barrel) had some rain barrels on sale, replete with spigots and fill strainer.  Better yet, they are tan colored, so I don’t have to repaint them to blend into the landscape.

Good Idea rain barrel.

The Good Ideas Impressions Corsican 50 was sold at our North Austin Costco for $89.00. Not exactly cheap. But hey, how much is your time worth?  These made in USA barrels are already fitted with two screw outlets, two connecting nipples (in the back) and a fill screen on top.  Also included inside the barrel are a diverter kit for home rain barrel use.

We installed the two spigots and toted the barrel out in our back yard (in an attempt to lure the critters away from the pool).  We connected a Pet Lodge Ever Full Bowl to the barrel and filled the barrel up with water.

Petlodge Everfull Bowl
Petlodge Everfull Bowl for watering animals.

The Ever Full Bowl PW-13 (purchased from Tractor Supply but available at Amazon) for $33.99 is a galvanized pan with a float valve and float shield.  It comes with a two foot hose to connect to the water source.

The only thing we added to the wildlife guzzler was a screen washer to the inlet of the bowl to prevent crud in the water from buggering up the needle valve in the bowl.

Screen Washer
Danco Water Hose Washer with Screen

The result is a pretty decent looking watering station which gravity feeds into the bowl. Sure, you will have to clean the leaves etc. out of the bowl when you refill the station.  But the sides are low enough that you shouldn’t have any drowned critters (an issue with tub style wildlife guzzlers).

Closeup of wildlife guzzler.

All that remains is to mount a game camera nearby so we can checkout whether the critters will accept this gizmo over our pool!

Complete wildlife guzzler setup.

Now, these wildlife guzzlers require manual refill.  I use a food grade blue barrel with a 12 volt pump from www.amazon.com.

Yes it’s a pain to have to refill.  But the only other option is to put a rainfall capture on the barrel, which I may do at some time.  However, right now, there isn’t enough rain for this to work.

18 square feet will capture 10.8 gallons of water for every inch of rain. We have had <1 inch of rain over the last two months.  Between critters and evaporation, this won’t keep the dish wet.

So, for the time being, manual refill is the answer.

Does drinking from a ranch water supply

Does enjoy a drink from the new wildlife guzzler

Hawk at watering hole
Red Shouldered Hawk balances on the guzzler.
Fox at watering hole.
Mrs. fox likes to party at night.

Texas Redoubt will soon offer a complete wildlife guzzler kit for your ranch or lease. More information to come soon.