Okay, so maybe it'll cost you a little more than 'tuppance' but this isn't 1910 anymore! Although, if you are the type to have a fully stocked kitchen you could probably make these for free.
The 'these' I am talking about are obviously bird fat cakes and are something everyone should have to help out our little wild friends, especially in winter.
I usually buy seed and bird fat balls/cakes but with the amount of birds now aware of my feeding ground the supplies deplete quickly and become costly for me. So! Instead of paying 80-90p for a coconut shell of feed I decided to pay 39p for a 250g block of lard and make multiple cakes to feed my birdy friends.
If you too appreciate our wildlife and would like to know how to make cost effective, yummy treats yourself carry on reading! (ps. It also makes an awesome hands on activity for kiddies, who, I recon, should all be being taught to help and look after mother nature in schools)
You Will Need:
- Something to mould your cake with.
eg. Empty yogurt pots or any size or shape. Cleaned out shells/hangers that have already been used as bird feed. Any other old, small containers that can easily remove the set cake from.
- String or Twine to hang the cake up with.
- A microwavable bowl or a Pan for the hob.
- A bowl to combine the mixture.
- Spoon...any will do.
You Can Use:
- Lard or Suet.
This is the main ingredient to bind everything together. Do NOT use fat from cooking, margarine or vegetable oil. These are all very bad for birds and will effect things such as the waterproofing and insulating qualities of their feathers as well as cooking fat being a bad bacteria breeding ground, not good for the little guys health!
- Uncooked Porridge Oats.
- Bread Crumbs.
- Currants / Sultanas.
- Seeds and Nuts.
Different types of seeds and nuts attract different birds. If you want certain species to visit, take a look at this to find out their favorite things. Never feed anything salted like salted peanuts etc.
- Mild Grated Cheese.
- Small quantities of 'natural' Breakfast Cereal.
For a full list of things that are suitable and not suitable for birds to eat, click here.
Let's Get Started!:
Step 1: Prepare your pots. Make sure they are clean and dry, then measure a length of twine suitable to fit from the bottom of the pot out and back to create a hanging loop. Tie and place in pot.
Step 2: Mix your dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Step 3: Chop up your fat of choice and place into a microwaveable bowl. Heat on full power in short bursts, stirring in between to make sure it all melts thoroughly. I did half of the 250g block at a time to avoid spillages but you could also melt your fat in a pan on the hob to get it all done in one go.
Step 4: Combine your liquid fat and dry mixture together, around 2 parts dry to 1 part wet. Mix well.
Step 5: At this point you can either get messy and use your hands to roll the mixture into balls or spoon it into the prepared containers, making sure to keep the string centered and to the bottom. Press down firmly with a spoon to compact the mix in the pot.
Step 6: Pop in the fridge and leave to set over night.
Step 7: Pushing from the bottom you may be able to ease the cakes out of their containers easily. If not try dunking the outside of the pot into warm water or alternatively wrap in a warm damp cloth for a minute or so. This should loosen the cake, like with ice cubes, so you can pop it out.
If unsuccessful, carefully cut up the side of the pot with a pair of scissors and remove that way.
Step 8: Hang out in the garden for all the wonderful wild birds to enjoy!!
After filling two yogurt pots and a coconut shell, I still had a bit left over and so I let it set in a little Tupperware box I had then broke it up and sprinkled it along the wall. The Blackbirds and Robins that have visited recently have enjoyed that stuff more so than the ones hung up!
I hope you guys give this a shot or at least make sure to pick up a bag of seed or fat balls during your next shop and pop them out for the birds - the winter is the hardest time of the year for everyone after all.
Let me know if you give this a shot and send me an after photo! Even try and spot which breeds you attract. I'd love to know what little guys you have in your areas :)
Last but not least, a little plug for my photographic wildlife 2015 calendar...I'd like to thank Leona for her amazingly generous shout out , as well as to those who have placed an order! I am sending them off for printing TONIGHT, so pretty please if you would like to support me let me know by 5pm. Only £10.00 (alot cheaper than most calendars these days!) and 12 fab images taken by me in the North East of England. Here's a peek at the final images.