Let’s be honest, we all love having birds in the garden. They really are a delight. From the sounds on a spring morning and the background noise of a relaxing summer’s afternoon, the tweeting somehow fills us with joy. However, when the winter comes, we don’t spend so much time outside and feeding the birds becomes more of an effort. However, this is when the birds really need us as there are less natural food sources around for them.
For them to get through the harsh winter weather, many birds ‘fatten up’ so that they are able to stay warm.
It is around this time of year that you will see the garden centres all of a sudden fill their shelves with fat balls and suet feeders so that you can give the birds the extra fat that they need. However, it is really really simple to make these at home and best of all, you can choose the seed that goes in them.
This is a great activity to do with the family and you can really add a creative spin if you feel the desire.
Note to parents: This activity does involve the heating up of some lard so adult supervision is a must at all times.
You will need:
A few packets of lard/suet. (If you live near a home bargains, lard is super cheap!)
Some garden twine (if you want to hang them in the trees)
Bird seed – I would recommend a mixed seed such as this one.
Disposable cups – for the mixture – you can also use cookie cutters for interesting shapes
Mixing bowl – one of a decent size
1Melt the lard:
For this mixture, we used three packs of normal sized lard. The blocks were cut into six and then placed into the saucepan to melt. It is best to melt on a low setting and allow 15 minutes for it to reach a liquid state. Three packs of lard were enough to make a mixture to fill 15 cups.
2Make your seed mix
The mixture that we used was already pre mixed but we did add in some niger seed and some peanuts to cater for more species of birds.
3Mix the seed and the lard
The ratio that I have found to work best is 2:1 birdseed to lard. However, this will be different depending on what type of seed you are using. As you can see from the picture, the lard has mixed in well. It’s best to add the lard in stages to make sure it has mixed in well.
4Spoon the mixture into the cups
Now that your mixture has been mixed, it is time to spoon them into the cups. We use the base of the spoon to compact the mixture in the cup. If there are too many gaps, you risk it breaking when you go to get it out of the cup.
5Allow to set
After leaving feeders to set overnight (somewhere cool if you can), they will be perfect to put onto the bird table the following day.
Hanging bird feeders: If you wanted to hang the bird feeders from a tree, simply put a small hole in the bottom of the cup and run a piece of string through the middle (leave enough string at the bottom of the cup to the a knot. Once the mixture has set, you will need to remove the cup from the feed. Avoid having a knot on its own – past experience shows that it simply falls off (unless it’s a BIG knot). Consider using a small twig or a cardboard circle to prevent gravity taking it off the string.
If you are placing a on bird table like we do, consider squirrels and cats!
Your birds will love it! Enjoy!