I hope all of you are enjoying this fall weather. Our birds are making preparations for winter, so I thought it might be a good time to share with you some ideas for making bird treats for our feathered friends during the cooler months. Many different types of treats can be made at home for little money versus store bought treats which can be very costly! My children love to help make a few of these and they get so excited when the birds come to enjoy their creations.
One of the feeders I use in the winter was made by my husband out of an 8” piece of log. He drilled half-inch-to-one-inch holes into the log and added a small eye-hook to hang it with. My kids and I fill the holes with peanut butter and unsalted nuts. This is a huge hit with the woodpeckers. My kids also love to hunt for pine cones in the fall. We fill in the cracks with peanut butter and roll them in bird seed. Be sure to hang the pine cones with some strong string or fishing line otherwise the squirrels will run off with your treat!
While searching online, I found a recipe for “edible glue” which consists of 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, and 3 tbsp. corn syrup (add package of plain Knox gelatin for extra holding power if you need it). To this you can add 4 cups of whatever your birds like most…unsalted nuts, raisins/fruit, bird seed, sunflower seeds, berries from your bushes, etc. You can form it into a shape or make squares to put in your suet feeders.
You can also buy lard from your local grocery, melt it and add peanut butter, bread crumbs, bird seed and dried fruit. Then pour the mixture into an empty plastic cup. (Be sure to punch a small hole in the bottom of your cup and put a string through it so you can hang it when you are done.) If the lard is too soft you can add cornstarch, flour or gelatin to firm it up. This one works best in the mid-to-late winter as warmer temps can make it very messy!
An easy way to make a garland is by using a thread or yarn with a needle and stringing bread, orange quarters, thick apple slices, cranberries, raisins, bananas, banana peppers, chili peppers or whatever else you can find. You can hang this garland on trees, shrubs, decks, etc. (Chili peppers will not harm the birds and may actually deter your squirrels. Birds do not have the taste receptors we have, therefore the “heat” from the peppers does not bother them.)
If you are like me I often times have left over rice, beans, or pasta from dinner, as well as bread or crackers that have gone stale. Spread the pasta, rice and beans out on the ground below the feeders for an occasional treat, and crumbling up the bread and crackers will make them last longer. Be sure that the rice is well cooked, because uncooked rice will swell in the bird’s bellies and can make them very ill. If you make popcorn that is unsalted you can also throw that out. Please be sure that whatever you give to our feathered friends contains little to NO salt!
I would like to again wish our friend and mentor, Ray, a speedy recovery. We all wish you well and look forward to the day you can return to writing your articles. Until then, I would like to thank all of you for your patience and I hope that I have provided you with some useful information.
By Karen Franklin