The holiday season means lots of different things, like Christmas Bird Counts, family gatherings, and food—lots of food! As you busily prepare your favorite treats this holiday, don’t forget to cook up something special for the birds! We’ve gathered some unique recipes to spice up your bird-feeding routine. Most are quick and easy, and each is sure to be a hit with the birds.
This peanut butter and lard recipe from Julie Zickefoose is popular with woodpeckers, jays, titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, sparrows, towhees, cardinals, bluebirds, mockingbirds, thrashers, and warblers. Did we miss anybody? Basically, backyard birds dig it.
Combine and melt in the microwave or over low heat:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup lard
In a large mixing bowl, combine:
2 cups unmedicated chick starter, available at farm/feed stores
2 cups quick oats
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
Add melted lard/peanut butter mixture to the combined dry ingredients and mix well. When cool, crumble and serve in a shallow dish, protected from rain. Store in peanut butter jars. Does not require refrigeration. Because it is rich and can become gooey, this food should be offered only in cold or inclement weather.
Raisin Oat Cake
- ½ cup fine wheat or multigrain breadcrumbs
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 tablespoons flour
Mix all ingredients together and blend well to form a thick batter. Add raisins dredged with flour. Grease a pie pan lightly. Pour mixture into pan and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, approximately an hour. Cool and break into large pieces. Place in mesh bags and hang in shrubs.
Peanut Butter Pinecones
- Peanut butter
- Birdseed (your choice!)
The classic peanut-butter pinecone feeder is a project popular with kids and adults alike. Lay out newspaper on a table or countertop and pour birdseed on it. Spread peanut butter all over the pinecones and roll them in the birdseed. Tie a piece of ribbon or string to the top of each cone and hang them on tree branches. The birds will pick them clean!
Pumpkin Seed Crunch
As you scrape out pumpkin guts for a made-from-scratch pie, don’t throw away the seeds! Don’t even compost them! Squash seeds of any sort, including pumpkins, are a high protein treat for birds.
First, wash the seeds, removing most of the pulp. If you don’t intend to store the seeds, and plan to offer them all at once, just spread them out on the ground or on a platform feeder during dry weather, so they don’t rot.
If you want to store them, it’s best to boil them for 10 minutes, then spread them out on a cookie sheet or two to minimize overlapping. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes, turning several times, until they’re slightly darker in color. Store in an airtight plastic bag or jar. Don’t salt them unless you intend to eat them yourself!
Only birds with strong bills, such as cardinal, grosbeaks, jays, and titmice, can crack the hulls, but they’ll relish what’s inside!