Give back yard birds a boost with homemade treats
When winter rolls around, birds have a harder time finding food, particularly during a snowfall. You can help them stay fit with homemade treats that are easy to make and will add a little decoration to the yard. These are especially fun during the holidays when kids can lend a hand. They can be as simple or artful as your own imagination.
Homemade Treat Ingredients
You can start with the basics and then branch out. Common ingredients include:
How to make wild birds happy
The above goodies can be combined in a number of ways. Pine cones and peanut butter are among the simplest wild bird treats. Be careful with little fingers, however. The tips of the petals on a cone have pointy little spikes. First, tie a festive ribbon on the cone so it will be ready to hang when you're done. Stuff peanut butter as far into the center as you can reach. Then smash seeds and nuts around the cone and it's ready to go.
Another favorite is bird "pudding," which is a varied combination of equal amounts of lard, peanut butter, wheat flour, and cornmeal. You can stuff this into any cavity or create a bowl from a dried muffin.
Breads that have gone stale make great decorations and have widespread back yard bird appeal. Bagels (halved) and biscuits work beautifully, too. Slather in peanut butter, then roll in commercial bird seed. Set up your hanging device beforehand to eliminate some of the mess. For any of these, you can run string through a top piece with a beading or quilting needle. For bagels, wrap a brightly colored bow around the top portion.
Back to Basics
Some will remember the olden days of stringing popcorn for the tree. That is still a great way to attract birds to your back yard and give them a feast at the same time. If you want to add a little festive cheer, spray paint wooden clothes pins in bright colors and attach the popcorn string at intervals in the tree. Fresh cranberries are another "golden oldie" that will never be out of style with birds.
Of course, a suet ball is a standard favorite. Use a 1:2 ration of shortening/bird seed. Warm over medium heat until all is mixed well. Pour into a plastic container and freeze for a few hours. Remove and hang in a mesh bag.
Feeders as Gifts
If you want to give a feeder as a gift for bird lovers, you may be better off shopping at a specialty store, either locally or on line. They're easy to hang and your friends won't be complaining about being covered in peanut butter as they remove your lovely gift from the box.
On the other hand, think how nice it would be for your family to have an evening of fun creating food treats for birds and then hanging them in an elderly neighbor's yard. There is so much joy to be had in watching all the colorful birds gather over a winter feast.
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