Making a Meal for our Feathered Friends

Winter finally arrived with some really chilly temperatures and snow!  This morning the total is approaching a foot, and it is still coming down. This picture was taken about an hour ago, already 6-8 inches everywhere. The forecast for my area is 12-18!  With the leaves gone, our winter view is able to see the mountain to the east of us.

January 2016 Snow 2

On the bird feeder, our local avian community has been working hard to empty the seed reservoir over the past few days.  I know that extra protein and fat are essential for them in really cold weather.  There are literally hundreds of recipes on the internet for suet, using all kinds of things for fat and protein.  So, I thought I’d try something with what I had on hand.

Suet Feeder 1

I had lard left in a pan after cooking bacon that I allowed to become solid, so I skimmed off the top and put it in a cup. Then I added about an equal amount of peanut butter.

Suet Feeder 2

Shelled sunflower seeds were added.

Suet Feeder 3

And cracked corn in the form of grits.

Suet Feeder 4

Mixing them all together, …

Suet Feeder 5

I filled two paper cups …

Suet Feeder 6

and packed the mixture down to make two round suet cakes.

Suet Feeder 7

I found a suet feeder at the hardware store.

Suet feeder basket

It was a bit thinner than my little cakes.

suet cake 1

But I flattened them a bit to form a nice round cake.

suet cake 3

My Sweet Babboo figured out how to attach it to the feeder pole, under the main feeder but still out of the squirrel’s reach. He put it out a few days ago. I wanted the birds to have time to find it before this blizzard hit.  It took a day for them to find it, and the Carolina Wrens were first.

wren on suet feeder

The cardinals weren’t too interested while the weather was good, but that changed this morning.

Cardinals January 2016 - 2

Today they all looked cold, with their feathers all fluffed up against the cold. My Sweet Babboo says some of them are just fat. Still, he is the one that buys them the better seeds, already shelled. But now I have proof of my theory. Here is the junco, as he landed.

January 2016 Snow birds junco 1

Then a moment later, he fluffed himself up. Same bird, now much bigger.

January 2016 Snow birds junco fluffed

This morning, everyone was competing for morsels of this high calorie meal. A chickadee and a titmouse share the wealth.  I was surprised to see snow on top of the cake.  Didn’t seem to bother the birds, though.

January 2016 Snow birds 6

Then a woodpecker stopped by.

January 2016 Snow birds 7

And another!

January Snow birds 21

I didn’t know what picture I had until I was pulling them off the camera. This one is neat, with the little wren still hanging off the side of the feeder, while the titmouse flew away.

January 2016 Snow birds 16

I had to keep grabbing the camera, as more birds stopped by for a bite. Here, a female cardinal has a morsel in her beak, while a nuthatch attempts a landing.

January Snow birds 23

Yes, he made it.  The male cardinal has had a few morsels, but I didn’t get a good picture of him.  Here, the female cardinal shares the bounty with a chickadee.

January Snow birds 24

All the birds seem to be sharing nicely. My Sweet Babboo says he will put the other suet cake out, and refill the seed reservoir a bit later when the snow lets up. I think I’ll make some more cakes with just vegetable shortening for later. They seem to be scarfing it up. Next time I am at the store, I think I’ll get some mealworms and see if the bluebirds are still around.

Are you feeding your birds?

23 thoughts on “Making a Meal for our Feathered Friends

  1. kaholly

    Lucky birds! I’m wondering if bacon fat might not be too salty and cause problems later…..always makes ME extra thirsty. Wonder if that’s true with birds, too. XO

    1. Thank you for the suggestion, DH put a bowl of water out for them, we’ll make sure to change it as it freezes. A search of various expert websites on bird feeding and kitchen scraps shows bacon fat is fine for birds. The Backyard Feeder’s Bible states that bacon fat will attract many varieties of birds, including bluebirds, Carolina wrens and woodpeckers, just like we saw today.

  2. Rosemaryflower

    Mmmmm yummy
    We used to have some nice happy blue birds all over and around us. I loved putting out food for them.
    Then the English Sparrows showed up and they tossed those blue birds out the back door!

    Then the starlings, blue jays, mockingbirds and others showed up. They are always bickering with each other. It is annoying. Someone is enjoying the nice birdies. I do like the robins when they show up. I always try to protect their nests because they always try to build one under the deck, that is fine, but I have to put a chair there with a sign for the mowers to kind of stay away.
    Happy Friday Carole
    I are preparing to get pounded with 30 inches

  3. Good Morning Carole! Your pictures this morning are absolutely delightful! The detail in each and every photo is spectacular! Clear and precise up close images of the fabulous birds delighting in their meal. Somehow, when it is this cold and it is still snowing, I think that the birds and other animals are more prone to share nicely (as long as they are not being overwhelmed with to many at the same time) knowing they each have to have this to survive. I am just one of those people that always tries to find the good. Kevin and I enjoy watching the birds at all times of the day from our front porch and I think I will make up a couple of these. But do you have to have the cage and why is it necessary? Just curious….something I guess that I have never thought of or never read about. Well you have a fantastic day inside bird watching and quilting!

  4. Melanie

    Loved your pictures and the recipe for birdie dinner! We in southern OR are discouraged from feeding wildlife because it attracts bears. So I had to give it up. Still, we have berries and other treats they come for so we can still enjoy watching them come and go. Occasionally I can sneak a small dish of treats out on the front deck and remove it before dusk when night creatures are scavenging. One day recently I noticed a gray squirrel looking for that dish, long after it was gone, even though it had been hidden by plants surrounding the deck! Critters are wise. :o) m

  5. Jan Beckert

    Thanks for posting this! I was wondering if I could use all that leftover bacon fat in addition to suet. I’ll mix it up and make them a few cakes! Loved your pictures!

  6. I was just telling my youngest son earlier today that it is amazing that states that are south from us ( Western PA here ) are getting these huge snowfall amounts / much more than us.

    I like this tutorial for mixing up a recipe for the birds! While I usually just buy suet in the store I never realized I could save my bacon fat to use for something like this.

    Clearly the birds love your diner and appreciate it very much! 🙂

  7. This is so neat. I will have to try your recipe. We have a stray cat that nibbles the suit until my boys accidentally scare him off trying to get a closer look at him.

  8. catsandroses

    Spectacular pictures! I don’t feed the birds, though they’re well taken care of by my MIL who lives on our property. She even has hummingbirds year-around, it seems! I enjoy watching the birds (as do our kitties, with their tail-twitching while watching from indoors!)

  9. dezertsuz

    That’s great! Thanks. I can’t get out to get one of those feeders for a few days, but maybe I can jury rig something. It’s better than the heels of bread I’ve been tossing about, and won’t be affected so much by the rain and snow. AND the best part is I just cooked bacon yesterday and I saved the grease afterward!

  10. I love this idea, and all the pictures of your birds. We are really getting hit right now, very popular with the neighborhood birds! We are snowed in as well, so maybe I’ll make my birds a treat 🙂

  11. What great photos! We stopped feeding the birds several years ago because we couldn’t keep the squirrels and raccoons away. Then the starlings and grackles ran off the “good” birds. We eventually gave up. I miss watching them.

  12. Great photos! We feed our birds all winter 🙂 and sometimes in the spring and summer. We have 5 feeders and 3 suet cages and we go trough a lot of bird seed. I was lucky this year to find a clearance sale on 40# bags of sunflower seeds for $5 a bag. I bought 6 bags …because that’s all they had left. I have a huge trashcan in the basement that is now full of sunflower seeds and very happy birds. Who I think have send messages to all of their distant relatives that we have a good place to eat at. 🙂

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your bird pictures. There must be some spiritual connection between quilters and birds.

    I use to put up bird feeders and loved watching the birds feed from my kitchen window. However, the seed attracted rats and field mice that also loved gnawing thru our pool wires that are pricey to fix. So that ended my bird feeders. I now put out humming bird feeders – no rats but plenty of bees and ants. They somehow get down into the feeder holes and get trapped in the feeders and I end up with feeders full (and I mean full ) of dead bees and ants. While distasteful to clean out they are not destructive to the wires.

    Terry in So California

  14. Just found your post from Le Challenge. Great recipe. I’ll give this one a try too, as I try them all lol. I ♥ feeding my birds. The chickadee come and feed directly in my hand. So light on my fingers, all I can feel is the sharp claws, like just having needles pushing gently against my skin. Nothing else. So cool. I have three different feeders for different birds. Some are rigged up so the big blue jay can’t go near the food. They have their own dining area lol. Then the chickadees, junco, sparrows and goldfinch feed from the two others. Every now and again, I’ll put up a suet cake or two, usually before a cold front. It always attracts the woodpeckers. Lovely pictures and thanks again for the recipe. ;^)

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