What is more joyful than finding a lonely Werthers in the back of a drawer? The advent of Spring.
Today the temperature reached 70 degrees and the birds finished their supply of suet. Daffodils are rising from the ground and rose bushes are forming new growth.
I stopped at Dime's Meat Market for another seven pounds of suet. Mrs. I decided she no longer liked grits, so I had grits (corn) to pour over the beef fat. The butcher agreed that suet was the most economical food, lasting far longer than seed, and it attracts the bug-eating specialists in the bird population. Starlings swarm the suet but also role-play humming birds as they stay airborne while trying to get seed from the squirrel-proof feeder. Their weight presses down the bar, but they want the tiny seeds, so they stay in flight while adding variety to their diet.
Suet and seeds are often bought by bird-watchers and frugal gardeners looking for pest control. People overlook other possibilities:
- Peanut butter
- Various grains
- Fruit jellies
- Leftover berries
- Stale bread, rolls, pizza crusts.
We opened up a new area for bird-feeding by lining half the backyard with cardboard boxes from Goodwill and other sources. Leaf bags were scarcer than Arkansas football victories during the autumn, with temperatures unusually high. The sudden transition from a little cold to warm weather again has prompted everyone to bag their leaves in convenient, chubby bags left on the curb.
Our helper and I picked up around 60 bags and covered the cardboard entirely. This area is a new bird feeder, an ideal location for beetles, bugs, spiders, earthworms, and various creatures of decomposition. This population explodes with spring rains and warmth, just as the birds need plenty of meat for their young broods.
The birds control the pests, but also - the pests control the bird population. A larger and more diverse bug population will attract more birds. As I said to the butcher, "The birds come to the suet, and they invite all their friends. Soon I am buying 40 pound bags of sunflower seeds." He agreed, laughing.
Another reclamation project consisted of pulling the best birch logs from a curb across the street and building a natural fence for the main rose garden. Wood begins to rot when left on soil, providing a good perch for birds and a constant center of bug activity, on and below the log or stump. That is why toads are found around dead logs. That is also why the Jackson Reclamation Project is including toad shelters made of wood. The clumps of dead wood fall off trees during storms and are easily gathered for toads instead of thrown away.