Tuesday, February 9, 2010
This Time of Year is for the Birds
Usually when winter comes there are plenty of plants and weeds that have gone to seed so birds can have a good diet. However, if you live in a part of the country where winter lasts for months and snow and ice are a constant, it can be challenging for birds to forage. We have a family of Cardinals that were here before us that let us know when the feeders are empty.
Below I have posted a couple of recipes that can help feed your resident birds and provide hours of entertainment for you, your kids and probably your indoor cats who have window seats.
This is a great project to do with children.
Home made suet
* 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
* 1 cup lard
* 2 cups yellow corn meal
* 2 cups quick oats
* 1 cup flour
* 1/2 cup birdseed, dried cranberries, dried apple, crumbs from the bottom of the good cereal box etc. (optional)
Muffin pans, ziploc storage containers, cut down plastic bottles to 1 1/2" or half gallon milk containers cut down.
Twine or hemp if you are going to gift these or want to make hangers.
Melt the lard and peanut butter on the stove top over low heat.
Then add the dry ingredients and stir till blended.
After mixing pour evenly into bottoms of cut down half gallon juice or milk containers. Or you can use those Ziploc plastic storage containers.. Set aside to cool, you can put in the fridge to cool quickly.
After cooled and set, pop the cakes out and fill your hangers.
Now I just save old onion bags that are sturdy, pop in the cake, and tie the top onto a heavy cord then hang in the trees.
If you are using the Ziploc containers,I have found that filled about half way was just the right size to make the suet cake to fit the square wire baskets you can buy at most places that sell birdseed in larger bags and have a good birding section. Make sure the baskets are dipped into plastic, or painted as birds can become stuck to frozen bare metal.
For gifts, you can get decorative pans or molds. Tie 8" of hemp into a circle and lay one end into the mold before you pour in the suet.
Pine cone feeders. (almost like the recipe above, so you can make both)
3 cups corn meal
1/2 cup shelled seeds like sunflower or thistle
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (store brand is fine)
3/4 to 1 cup rendered fat. (lard, bacon drippings, etc.}
Several large pine cones
Optional: 1 cup chopped fruit and/or a cup of quick cooking oats
In a large bowl, mix the corn meal and seeds together. Using two forks cut in the peanut butter, as you would for a pie crust.
Melt the fat and pour into the corn meal and peanut butter mixture. Mix well and allow to cool. If it is too runny, add more corn meal or some oats.
Stuff the suet into a pine cone. Hang several of these stuffed cones from a limb (as in photo above.) In a few days your birds will love you. I hang mine near a feeder to speed this process.
This recipe is very flexible-and a good way to use grease and fruit. Store excess suet in the refrigerator.