|Wake up before the birds.|
Our Southern birds do not get up early. They wait for the sun to warm them up first. The solar lights were still on when I went outside to check on their food and water. We only had a light frost on the ground this morning and another warm day ahead.
I have five suet bags for the birds, six baths, and two places for seed. I am new at feeding meal worms to birds, hoping for some new species and perhaps bluebirds. I decided to mix the dried ones with sunflower seed, which seemed to bring in some new little ones, who dashed away before I could ID them.
To be economical, I use suet and water as the main attractions. Three pounds of suet at 60 cents a pound will last all winter. Water pans give birds many different places to bathe and drink, so a lot more arrive. They make happy noises, and that brings more to the garden.
Some people put a leaky bucket up above a birdbath to create the dripping water sound that attracts birds. As Melville noted in Moby Dick, everyone moves toward the sea. Gardens have water features to remind us of ponds, lakes, rivers, and the ocean. Animal life gathers around water sources, and shallow water provides food for creatures large and small.
A small garden pond starts by fostering algae, the foundational food for water life. When I studied garden ponds, the books said, "Be sure they get sun so algae forms as a basis for food." Pond life includes the microscopic creatures, plants, and fish. I bought goldfish, and the garter snakes promptly ate them.
Overflowing water fosters more growth. Autumn leaves under the backyard faucet become slimy with mold. Slugs attack the leaves, and toads get the slugs. The wild strawberries use the water to extend their reach across the back of the house, and birds have another feeding station. Birds return the feed to the soil by leaving their deposits behind.
Muddy patches help birds build nests. Butterflies puddle in patches of mud and wet manure, apparently to get minerals.