Monday, October 19, 2009

for the birds

There are three bird feeders and a bird bath outside my kitchen window that attract a large variety of local birds:
  • Robins (who don't eat from bird feeders but who enjoy the bath)
  • Blue Jays (who scare away the other birds and are REALLY loud)
  • Common house sparrows (that sit on my kitchen window sill)
  • Owls (they keep their distance but manage to scare the bejesus out of the little birds)
  • Golden Finches (only prefer thistle)
  • Red Tail Hawks (only prefer to eat the little birds, which they have, right in front of me)
I put out a variety of seeds (aka what is on sale). I've found the oiled sunflower to be the least preferred by the most birds. The little ones can't manage it and the big ones just throw it all over the place. It does help, though, with making suet because of its size.

I've added a suet feeder for winter, and developed my own suet recipe. I consider this a success because:
A. birds seem to eat it
B. Birds seem to eat it and survive

Here's the recipe:
  • Three or four heaping tablespoons of beef fat (I collect it in a can and save it in the fridge, let it harden and throw out the can when it's full. It contains bacon and beef fat. )
  • Three tables spoons of any kind of peanut butter
  • A cup of oiled sunflower seeds.
Put all three into a metal bowl over a pot of hot water until it all melts.

Then add the suet mix to a plastic container the size of your suet feeder (I bought a suet cake from the store and saved the plastic tray to re use)
Put the suet into the container and into the freezer to firm up.
When set, pop it out and insert into the feeder.

Now, if you live where it is 90 degrees, this recipe is not only NOT going to work, it will make a terrific drippy mess. So leave this for cold climate or cold days. I googled recipes calling for beef suet from a butcher shop (a what?) and two or three melting sessions to firm it. I don't plan on commercially selling suet and I'm lazy, so mine worked just fine and took about 15 minutes.

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