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Archive for January, 2011

We live on a wooded ridge, and have numerous feeders & trays of seeds out for the birds. The seeds we offer include Black Oil Sunflower, Safflower, Nyjer/Niger (also incorrectly called Thistle seed), and this year we’ve added corn AND the seed cakes in the previous post. We originally added the Safflower because there were some reports that squirrels didn’t like them – These small white seeds are high in protein and fat but apparently have a bitter taste that blackbirds, starlings, grackles and squirrels generally don’t like.

This year we added the corn in shallow pans on the ground under pole feeders to see if it would deter the squirrels from going after the suet/seed cakes. In the beginning, the squirrels checked out the corn…but then went right back to the suet/seed cakes.

Now we seem to be ahead of the squirrel problem. We’ve placed all hanging suet/seed cakes on the same pole and put a baffle under the cakes. The squirrel cannot reach them. And just today, I saw one feasting on corn under the pole.  Score: People 1  –  Squirrels 0   :-)

Last year we added heaters to two of our many birdbaths. All of the birds & squirrels appreciate the open water when the temps slide below freezing. We found the heaters at a farm supply store. Ours look almost like this one. The unit simply lays on the bottom of the bird bath & keeps water available. It never gets too hot, as the thermostat simply keeps the water from freezing. You can see when it’s on, as you’ll see steam rising from the birdbath. We’re very glad we got them. They cost around $30.00.

The list of our January Yard birds is as follows:

  • Northern Cardinal
  • Carolina Wren
  • Blue Jay
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • American Robin
  • Northern Flicker
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Harris’s Sparrow
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Mourning Dove
  • Pine Siskin
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Brown Creeper
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • American Crow

I’ll be adding to this list as they appear or as we recall what we left off. ;-)

FYI: Yes, I know this post was supposed to be about homemade doggie biscuits, but I wanted to get the birds in there. Next up, Homemade Doggie Treats!

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Because our family decided to exchange homemade gifts this year & because we are avid birders, I decided to try my hand at making bird seed cakes. It turned out to be a great success. The basics of this recipe are lard, peanut butter & cornmeal. Other ingredients may be added as you choose. (In addition, I also tried my hand at doggie treats. Stay tuned…that will be up next in this space.)

This is the recipe I used originally – as printed in Birds & Blooms Magazine.

Bird Cupcakes

1 Cup Shortening

2 Cups Chunky Peanut Butter

Melt these together for approximately 1 minute in the microwave.

Mix in 5 cups of Cornmeal.

Fill cupcake tins and top with your choice of nuts, birdseed or dried berries. Cool in the refrigerator. To give as a gift, arrange on a plate or stack and then wrap in cellophane. (I placed several in one of my homemade baskets & put cellophane over the whole thing.) Attach a recipe card so your recipient can make more. Add a bow & you have an instant gift!

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Our birds did not take to this right away. So when I made it the second time, I made these changes & now they’ve been arguing over it. ;-)

1 cup lard

2 cups chunky peanut butter

4 cups cornmeal

2/3 C. Sunflower Seeds

2/3 C. Thistle Seeds

Melt the lard and peanut butter. Add the cornmeal & stir to mix. Add the birdseed & mix well.

Fill cupcake pans that have liners. Cool cupcakes in refrigerator or freezer. If the mixture hardens in your microwave safe bowl, it may be reheated to soften. I have also put the mixture in plastic trays that were saved from purchased suet cakes. That works quite well also.  One of the reasons for using cupcakes is that you can easily sit them around in various places on your patio or in your yard.

And as you can see, the birds now really like them – they were especially popular during our last snow storm.  :-)

So something that started out to be about making homemade gifts for family turned into a good deed for our birds. I think we’ll branch out now and try some new and different recipes.  Here’s a list of things you can use from A Home for Wild Birds.

  • Raisins or Currants
  • Dates
  • Shelled peanuts
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Birdseed mix
  • Black oil sunflower seeds
  • Molds to shape your creations
  • String or yarn
  • Lard, shortening or rendered suet
  • Crunchy peanut butter
  • Molasses
  • Oatmeal
  • Stale bread, breadcrumbs or crackers
  • Cornmeal or cornbread mix
  • Cream of wheat
  • Graham crackers
  • Flour (whole wheat flour preferred)

Have fun! Your birds will thank you.  :-)

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