It's getting to be that time of year. Cold, snowy and just a difficult time for our fine feathered friends outside. I imagine it's hard for a bird to find food during winter with no plants blooming and no worms spending much time on the surface of the ground. Having snow on the ground would make it even harder. This is why I always keep my bird feeders full during cold weather. When I have time, I even make little bird cakes to hang on the trees. They love them and the fat they are made with helps keep the birds plump and well insulated from the cold. I have four recipes that I like to use to make my bird cakes. They are all easy and pretty quick to make. Making them is a great family activity, perfect for the holidays.
Many bird cake recipes call for suet. If you don't know what suet is, it is basically fat. When you trim the fat off a beef roast or the edge of a pork chop, that fat is suet. If you don't have any solid meat fat to use, you can use bacon grease or even shortening like Crisco. What you need is some type of fat that you can melt to a liquid form and then when chilled, it will harden to keep the other ingredients together for the birds to peck.
My Four Favorite Bird Cake Recipes
- 1 1/4 pounds suet (approx 2 cups, melted)
- 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup crushed peanuts
- 1/2 cup cracked corn kernels
In a saucepan over low heat, melt the suet
Add all the other ingredients and stir to mix
Spoon into large paper cups or muffin tins and insert a drinking straw through the middle to make a hole for the string
Cool in the refrigerator until solid, peel away the paper cups and pull out the straw
Slip the string in the hole tie to a tree branch or bird feeder
Soak raisins in warm water to hydrate them
Add cornmeal or cereal crumbs.
Add birdseed, raisins and peanuts and stir to mix
Slowly add enough warm water to form a stiff dough
Spread mixture on a greased cookie sheet about 1/2 inch thick and refrigerate overnight
Cut or break into pieces to tie to tree branches
- 1 pound suet (16 ounces)
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup chunky peanut butter
- 1 cup mixed wild birdseed
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
Melt suet over low heat
Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until mixed well
Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and spoon in the mixture
Refrigerate overnight and tie to low hanging tree branches
- 1 cup suet
- 2 cups creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup bacon grease
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup white or yellow cornmeal
- 2 cups wild bird feed with sunflower seeds
In a saucepan on low heat, place suet, peanut butter, and molasses and melt together
Add oatmeal, cornmeal and bacon grease and stir till mixed
Add birdseed a little at a time while stirring until you get the proper consistency to make balls
Make 2 inch balls and freeze for a couple hours.
These balls can be tossed on the ground or placed in a feeder
If you don't have time or ingredients to make bird cakes, you can still help your birds by feeding them left over food. Below is a list of foods that it is safe to feed birds.
Chopped cooked pasta
Shredded hard cheese
Roasted melon, pumpkin or squash seeds
Cereal (low sugar is better)
Crackers (unsalted is better)
Dry dog or cat food
Bread and Cornbread
Cake, cookies and doughnuts (small amounts)
These are just a few things that you can feed birds, however, if you are thinking of feeding something to your backyard birds, it is a good idea to Google it and make sure it is ok
because somethings are not recommended, like raw tomatoes or mushrooms.
This picture to the right is what is called a suet feeder. Instead of tying your bird cakes to tree branches you can put them in this feeder and hang them anywhere you have birds. You can also put fruit slices or bread in them for the birds to eat. They just hang on the wires and peck!
I hope you have a great week!