Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feeding The Birds

It's been so bitterly cold lately, and outside is so barren and snowy, that I've begun to worry about the poor birds and wondering if they're finding anything to eat. I had hoped that we'd get our bird feeder up this summer/fall, but it just never happened. Then Price Chopper had a sale on wild birdseed ($2.50/bag) this week and I found a $2 off coupon online. For fifty cents, I figured I could do some peanut butter/birdseed pinecone thingies with the boys. Except any pinecones that might be around are buried under more than a foot of snow and ice. Enter Google. I found a lot of different receipes for birdseed feeders/cakes/pinecone thingies and some of them said to use suet (because birds don't have salivary glands and the peanut butter by itself can choke them) and some said to add bread crumbs or cornmeal or dried fruit to the suet/peanut butter/birdseed combination, and that a mixture with these ingredients could be fashioned into a birdseed cake that could be hung from trees. It seemed doable, so I got birdseed and suet, and when Kira called to say she was coming over this afternoon, I said, "Good. I've got a project for us!"

The first thing we had to do was render a big chunk of (completely unappetizing) suet into liquid.

I gave up rendering the whole chunk, and used what I considered to be "enough" liquified suet when it was about 1/2 inch deep in the bottom of my pan. Then I scraped out the remaining peanut butter in the peanut butter jar (about 1/4-1/3 C), melted it in the microwave (about a minutes) and added that to the liquified suet.

I added about half a small bag of birdseed to the suet/peanut butter mixture.

I didn't have any cornmeal or bread crumbs on hand, but I did have crushed up cornflake crumbs, and I figured it was the same basic idea. I added a cup or so of cornflake crumbs to the mixture, and then Kira and I called in our assistants.

We took metal cookie cutters and filled them with the birdseed mixture. Then we stuck pretzel rods through the centers of them to make holes for hanging the birdseed cakes (because the boys were snacking on the pretzels at the time and we figured they'd work as well as anything else).

The finished product
After that, we put them on the sun porch to cool and firm up for a couple of hours. Then we looped yarn through the holes and I hung them from the branches of our chesnut tree in the backyard.

Hopefully the birds will discover them before the squirrels do.


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