Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Feeding the Birds

Pileated Woodpecker on Cherry Tree
Pileated woodpecker
looking for some food

I enjoy watching the birds visit the feeders - especially the flock of cardinals, the Northern Flicker, and variety of woodpeckers.

Sophia and Olivia also like watching the birds and tracking how many and what type visit the feeder.  Sometimes they'll even do a bar graph to visually show which birds were the most popular at the feeder during a given time period. (This is a great homeschooling nature/science + math activity.)

So, last month I was reading a past issue of Birds and Blooms magazine, and saw an article about making holiday gifts from your backyard. One of the ideas I liked was making birdseed treats.

Using cookie cutters or muffin tins, you can offer food to the birds while decorating at the same time!

Birdseed Treats
Birdseed treats packed with seed mixture and
chilling in the mudroom
(which is colder than the refrigerator at this time of year)

Birdseed Treat Recipe
(Recipe from Angie Dixon)

1/3 cup gelatin
1-1/2 cups water
8 cups of birdseed

Mix gelatin and water on low until gelatin is melted and clear. Remove from heat and stir in 8 cups of birdseed. Stir until it is well mixed and there is no dry seed. Fill cookie cutters with the seed mixture and pack tightly. Then refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Dry on baking rack for 3 days.

Note:  If you plan on hanging the treats (rather than just putting them in a suet feeder), make sure you put a hole and string/yarn where you want it before the shape is completely dry.  Otherwise, it is much more difficulty and likely to break.

Birdseed Treats in Tins
Birdseed treats in muffin tins -
a good size for filling suet feeders

Another idea presented in the same article was to make a birdseed wreath.  I didn't do this, but thought it is worth mentioning.  Perhaps I'll do this another time this winter.

Birdseed Wreath

To make a wreath, combine the same ingredients used to make the birdseed treats. But instead of using cookie cutters, press the mixture into a miniature Bundt cake pan or another rounded mold. Refrigerate for 4 hours, then carefully remove from the mold. Let it dry overnight, then decorate it with edibles. Or dress it up with raffia, large accents, ribbon or bows.

Black Capped Chickadee on Feeder
Black-capped chickadee eating some of the
Amish bird suet I make regularly

If you would like to see the pictures that were in the Birds and Blooms magazine, you can visit the magazine's website HERE.

Female Red-Wing Blackbird at Feeder - I Think
There was a large flock of these birds which aren't normally here.
I'm not sure the type of bird.  Any ideas?


Laurel said...

Great post - I've got to try making those ornaments/wreaths with my daughter, who's just as much of a critter-magnet as I am. I love my bird feeders, and enjoy watching the birds year-round. "Birds and Blooms" is such a nice magazine, too.

leecytx said...

Love the nature classes!! You need to look at our nature blog we raise butterflies & rescue all sorts of critters in our yard!

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