Luther commented that we should pay attention to Professor Vogel (German for bird), who starts each day without any food and no idea where it will come from. Yet the bird begins with Matins, singing praise and thanks to his Creator.
I promised one reader that I would write about Creation, gardening, and birds again.
Northwest Arkansas is a wonderful place to live. The winters are mild and short, a good combination. That means I can plant hardy bulbs again. I may try tender bulbs as well. Roses are definitely on the list for spring.
Our yard has a limited expanse of grass in the front, a woods next to the driveway, and a wooded ravine behind our house. When Sassy takes me for a walk, I start by yelling, "Let's kill a squirrel!" She races around the yard, never getting close to any creature, but always willing to try.
Our living room has large picture windows looking out over the ravine and the deck. Mrs. Ichabod laughed that I wanted suet for Christmas. I used to get bags of it for almost nothing in Midland. Now I have to order it from Dunhill.
I am hanging suet bags in the front bushes and from the rafters outside the picture windows. Birds really need the energy from fat during the winter, and insect-eating birds are especially attracted to suet.
Duncraft is one place to order supplies.
I may put up a corn feeder on one tree. The silhouette is there on one tree from the previous renter. I am wary about attracting raccoons and other critters to the deck. They may already sneak in at night for dog food and water. If I add corn to the deck menu, they may come inside for dessert.
I am putting a shallow dish with water on a concrete block for a birdbath. Like humans, birds enjoy baths all winter. In Midland I had a birdbath warmer, a source of constant amusement for friends. I often used a gallon of water of day, because flocks of birds stopped by for a bath, lining up two by two in some cases, for their turn. They would jump in, splash around, and get pushed out by the next in line.
I looked at birdbath warmers ($70 or so) and solar birdbaths ($20), then decided freezing is not really an issue. I have had the dog watering tank partially freeze a couple of times, toward morning. "Make do or do without" is my motto now.
In winter, birds want fresh water and baths most of all. Having a bath where they can be observed is great fun.
They also like various kinds of cover and shelter. They live and feed in three different levels (ground, bushes, trees). They often feed at one level and live at another. Our yard is the perfect combination, since an open grassy area is ideal, as long as bushes and tress are near. Previously I grew sunflowers, and I will again. The giant Russian sunflowers are good for perching and produce an astonishing amount of seed.
We have bluebirds in the area, so I may do more for them. (Buy mealy worms? Possible.) I already saw one in the ravine. We have plenty of owls, too.
Two things are essential for a good garden. One is compost. The other is a good earthworm population. I can buy a few red wigglers and let their lusty habits do the rest. They will spread out across the yard, as long as the soil is reasonably wet and hospitable. One author attributed our country's staggering fertility to the earthworms brought over by European settlers (potted plants, hooves of farm animals). That was the earliest example of illegal aliens doing the work that Americans wouldn't do.
Working with God's Creation is far simpler and cheaper than buying a lot of stuff for gardening. The first step is attracting the bird population.