Fat block bird feeder
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- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter (less-processed is best, without added fillers)*
- 1 cup flour (whole wheat or white flour)
- 1 cup fat (suet or vegetable shortening)**
- 4 cups grains, seeds, legumes and/or dried fruit***
Choose local, organic ingredients where you can.
- Melt fat in a saucepan on low heat.
- While that’s melting, mix other ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Pour melted fat over dry mixture, stir well and pour into pancake, loaf or muffin tins — all work well.
- If you’re using a larger pan, cut the mixture into smaller blocks or cakes (about the size of a large brownie) once it’s cooled. To avoid attracting rats, squirrels and raccoons, feed blocks should be small enough for bird guests to consume in a day. Discard rancid or moldy feeders. Blocks can be frozen until needed.
- Spread one serving of feeder mixture onto tree bark or smush it onto a pine cone. You can also place one fat block into a mesh onion bag (great recycling idea!) or a wire suet cage (get this at the bird store) — these give birds something to hang out on.
- If you hang your feeder from a tree branch, secure the holder to a tree trunk with wire or string. Keep it at a distance from bird houses or nest boxes to avoid attracting predators. (Don’t worry about stuff that falls — it’ll give ground feeders such as Dark-eyed Juncos and Doves a chance to dig in.)
- Sit back and enjoy the birds!
Feeders may be cleaned with one of our simple “green” cleaning substitutes for borax.
* If peanut allergy is an issue, substitute almond or other nut butters. If nut allergies are a problem, try seed butters.
** Suet, the best fat choice for birds, can be purchased from a butcher, or at a wild bird store. If you choose vegetable fat, be sure it’s non-hydrogenated — it’s better for birds for the same reasons it’s better for humans.
*** Options: rolled oats, cracked corn, cornmeal, black oiled sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, shelled sunflower seeds, millet, peanuts (raw, unsalted), currants, cranberries, raisins, apples, wild berries or pre-mixed birdseed. (Note: many birds won’t be able to eat seeds in the shell once they are coated in fat. You may have to substitute unshelled seeds.)
Get to know your guests and learn their preferences
Keep a bird book or reference guide handy. This list is a good start:
|Feeder option||Bird visitors who will love this|
|peanuts, in shell||jays, crows|
|peanuts, shelled||jays, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, bushtits
(A favorite of the Steller’s jay)
|cracked corn (best choice, or try yellow cornmeal)||jays, wrens, doves, grosbeaks, juncos, blackbirds|
|dried fruit (apples, raisins, currants)||jays, cardinals, grosbeaks, doves, woodpeckers, sapsuckers, juncos|
|striped sunflower seeds, in shell||jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, grosbeaks, cardinals,
nuthatches, finches, titmice
(A favourite of titmice)
|sunflower seeds, shelled (aka sunflower chips or hearts)||siskins, chickadees, goldfinches, grackles, finches, sparrows, doves
(A favourite of the pine siskin)
|black oil sunflower seeds, in shell||chickadees, grosbeaks, finches, nuthatches, sparrow,
woodpeckers to name a few
(A favorite of chickadees)
|safflower seeds, in shell||jays, chickadees, finches, sparrows (starlings, grackles, blackbirds and squirrels don’t like these)|
|white millet||jays, chickadees, finches, sparrows (starlings, grackles, blackbirds and squirrels don’t like these)|