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High water

Provision of an artifical puddle so close to a much larger (if somewhat less limpid) reservoir might seem redundant.

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But smaller birds

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and mammals

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tend to dine and drink local, by preference. Even a hundred yards’ trek through broken woodland and across muddy bank consumes some effort, and even the most energy-efficient gait or flight cannot negate a hundred-foot change in gravitational potential. Further, once acclimated to a benign human presence, proximity to a house affords a certain separation and ready retreat from airborne, fast-footed or submarine predators.

After fall and winter come spring, with rains to quench burgeoning thirst for increasingly active flora and fauna. But this is New England, should in optimistic economy a host turn down the heat

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prematurely—say, three days before the end of April

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—guests may be left perplexed and bereft

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until the rising flow of solar energy

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makes all well again:

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The splash at lower right above is an artifact not of sloppy imbibition, but of Calvinesque abandon, as by this enthusiastic oriole:

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Like a coliform-defying pilgrim at the Varanasi ghats, aided by stepping stones to various depths, this tanager may satisy the immediate need for a drink

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before hopping across his little loop of the Ganga

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for a mite-drowning

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and plumage-restoring ablution.

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Just don’t scrub too hard!

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