If you enjoy bird watching but don’t want to spend a fortune feeding birds in your garden, why not make some homemade wild bird treats? They’re easy to make and an excellent opportunity for kids to get involved with the hobby.
Bird seed is an integral part of many birds’ diet, and you likely already have all the ingredients necessary for making a homemade mix. Black oil sunflower seeds are especially popular as they’re high in fat and highly nutritious for many types of wild bird.
Suet cakes are an enjoyable and healthy snack for wild birds that can be easily made at home from ingredients like peanuts, dried fruit or mealworms. Suet cakes make great additions to any backyard bird feeder!
Suet cakes are easy to prepare and store in the freezer for wintertime use. In warm climates, however, suet can melt quickly if left exposed to sunlight, so making sure it stays out of your food supply is ideal.
Traditional suet, made from the hard fat surrounding kidneys in cows and sheep, is a beloved food source for many backyard bird species during colder months. This nutritious treat provides essential lipids which help prepare year-round residents for winter weather conditions and attracts woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and wrens alike.
Bird Food Blocks
Bird food blocks are an excellent way to attract wild birds into your yard. Not only are they simple and inexpensive to make, but they don’t need any special equipment either.
Bird food can be made with a variety of ingredients, such as seeds, nuts and dried fruit. You may even mix different kinds of bird food together for an even more varied diet.
Suet is an energy-dense, fat-rich food for birds that provides them with plenty of calories. Woodpeckers especially enjoy it, but chickadees and nuthatches also enjoy it.
Suet feeders are mesh containers that contain suet blocks and allow “clinging” birds to feed through holes. These feeders will attract woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and kinglets alike.
Suet blocks can be used year-round, but it’s essential to check on its quality since it melts if heated too quickly. To keep your suet fresh, store it in a cool, dry place and replace as needed.
Peanut Butter Balls
These peanut butter balls are an iconic, timeless treat made with ingredients commonly available during the middle of the last century.
This recipe creates bite-sized balls coated in chocolate and peanut butter. Not only are they easy to make, but they make excellent gifts!
This recipe begins with peanut butter and cream cheese, adding just enough powdered sugar for sweetness. The cream cheese provides a layer of rich creaminess that helps to balance out the peanut butter flavor.
Add some crunch to this peanut butter ball recipe by adding some rice cereal! A nice alternative to the dense filling commonly associated with modern peanut butter balls.
Once your peanut butter balls have been formed and rolled, melt the chocolate in the microwave. I recommend Ghirardelli brand melting wafers for dipping, but you may use regular chocolate chips too.
Cuttlebones are an excellent natural source of calcium, iron, potassium and zinc for your wild bird. These trace minerals benefit both birds and people alike.
Most parrots will happily chew up a cuttlebone, but they can also be ground into powder and added to their soft food for easy calcium supplementation. This makes it convenient for those birds that don’t eat raw cuttlebone in its raw form to offer calcium supplements.
Cockatiels and parakeets are especially susceptible to calcium deficiencies, as they require a lot of it for their wellbeing and egg-laying.
One way to ensure your bird gets enough calcium is to clip a cuttlebone onto the cage bars after they’ve finished eating. This works best in cages with tight bar spacing like cockatiels or parakeets.