Is there no end to bad punny blog titles? I believe the answer to that is yes. But I hope you paid close attention to the question, as it was quite tricky.
Anyhoo, yes. Birds. Very important part of the garden. And life. And beauty. And entertainment. And to irritate Mr. Jefferies. He loves to come out the back door and peremptorily bark and chase even the phantom birds that might be on the pin oak enjoying their suet and fruit and meat. And when the huge crows fly by, he anxiously looks up in the sky out of the corner of his eye. Something in his DNA says, "Um. WTF?" As I said, entertainment. But if one of them even TRIES to swoop down and take him for breakfast, I'm getting a shotgun. I'm not kidding.
I love the birds. I especially loved the little brown sparrows that used to come along and melt my heart by picking up Vincent's (my dear departed Bichon Frise) hair off the grass when I cut it. And I especially love hummingbirds. And I especially love the little black birds with yellow beaks (I don't really know what they are) that come along in droves and walk like little British regiments in formation, Hoovering all along my lawn, quickly eating (I assume) hundreds and thousands of insects.
When the economy was better, all my neighbors covered their lawns with chemicals, but we've always used either no lawn fertilizer, or organic, and those armies of black birdies would come to our lawn and nobody else's. I rest my case about organic. Now the economy is tight, and nobody around here is spending the money to buy their Scott's (or whatever) poison fertilizer, so the birds are branching out a little to their yards, too. But they are still here, and they are really adorable and fascinating when they do their thing like that. Wish I could get a picture -- or better yet, a video -- of them when they are in action. It's really quite something to see.
Hummers eat loads of bugs, and so do the other birds, so they help the garden. I want to have them here. I have lots of natural food for them -- I have pine trees from which they eat pine nuts; I have lots of seedy-headed flowers such as black-eyed Susans and Echinacea and sunflowers later in the season, I have nectar-giving flowers for the hummingbirds. I feed suet cakes now year-round. The birds love it. I used to feed seed, but had problems with it attracting rodents, so I gave that up. I find that the suet cakes attract a much wider variety of birds than my seed feeders ever did, too. In the suet baskets, I also put meat trimmings and stale bread and fruit. It's fun. And I need another hobby. There is always room for one more hobby.
I'm hoping to attract Orioles back to my yard. I haven't seen one in a few years, but used to have them. They like oranges and other fruits.
This one had steak trimmings in it, but not for long. It was very popular with the meat-eaters.
And water -- birds need water. The little birds love the water shallow. The robins and other large birds like it to be a bit deeper. So I have fashioned little water stations all around my yard, and it's wonderful to watch the chickadees and goldfinches stop for drinks up near my vegetable garden as soon as I refill their little puddles, and it's almost even better to watch the mama robins take their daily elaborate baths in the deep birdbath in the front of the house.
This one is flat and shallow and holds only 2 cups of water. The wee birds drink from it.
This is a deeper one. The robins have bathed in this for about five years now.
Just an old saute pan I found in the basement, with a rock in the middle for little guys to step on for taking a drink or having a bath.
An aluminum lid turned upside-down. This is everybody's favorite, including Mr. Jefferies' for a drink when A. Alpha is spending too long outside without taking a break to go inside where his regular water bowl is. I keep this one impeccably clean, because he does like to drink from it.