Sunday, January 17, 2010

This is for the Birds!

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Today is Sunday and I'm a little bit lazy. We ran out of birdseed today so I decided I'd take the Argo out to the pickup (about 2 1/2 miles from here) and get the seed we left there when we got home from Fort Collins last Tuesday (I could have snow shoed out there but.... laziness rules today!). It is another beautiful day with no wind so off I went. I got the seed and the storage box I bought to put Christmas wrap in and came home. I usually buy my birdseed from Wildbirds Unlimited in Fort Collins because they have blends with no millet in them. We didn't get over there this time so I had to get mine at Walmart. The seeds I bought have a lot of millet in them and the birds (squirrels and mink) sort through and leave all the millet so it is really kind of a waste of money. If they don't have anything else to eat they finally clean it up but not very happily. So, I found a way to use the millet that, I think, makes the birds eat it. It is a recipe for Peanut Butter Birdseed Balls.

I plan to make them and hang them on my Christmas tree which I stuck in a snow drift out in front of the porch. I will need to make a few modifications to it since I haven't been to the store to get some beef suet from the butcher, but he has always had some when I've asked. I grind it up here at home because I have my trusty Bullet Express. Anyway, since I don't have any, I have saved bacon grease, side pork grease, and some hydrogenated fat( Crisco-type) that I deep fried in once and then froze. I've used it before and the birds still love it and have had no ill effects that I've noticed. Actually, I think the squirrels get most of it! I tried hanging it from the rafters but they still seem to figure a way of reaching it.


1/2 pound ground up beef suet

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 cups cornmeal

Decorative cord, yarn, or ribbon, etc.

Wild birdseed, hulled or unhulled sunflower seeds, barberries, or dried red, blue or yellow corn kernels (I just use store bought birdseed)

1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt suet, stirring occasionally.
2. Strain rendered suet into large bowl, discarding crisp particles (I think I'll put them out for the squirrels).

3. Blend in peanut butter (I use smooth or chunky, whichever I have) and cornmeal to make a stiff dough. (dough is not stiff while in hot melted grease)
4. Chill mixture 30 minutes, until easily shaped with hands.

My mixture cooling down outside.

Meanwhile, cut about 8 to 12 14 inch lengths of cord. Tie ends of each together in knot making loops. Mold balls around knot on each loop, so that knot is in the center. Pour one or a combination of suggested seeds into a pie plate. Roll balls in seeds, to coat thoroughly.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour, until firm.

Knotted strings waiting for mixture. Peanut butter birdseed balls just chillin'

I just pour the seeds in with the peanut butter mixture so there are seeds all the way through and then chill and form the balls. That way the birds eat the millet too. I've seen birdseed mixtures with dried cranberries and raisins in it so if you have some extra you might try using them too. I have some really old dried raisins and cranberries I want to use up, so they are going in the mixture too.

Out on the tree waiting for the birds!

This recipe came from the book, WHAT SHOULD I BRING? GREAT GIFTS FOR EVERY OCCASION, by Alison Boteler, page 88.

A few last notes: Last year I made one big slab in a 12 inch frying pan and left it for the birds when we left for a few months. I hung it by their feeders. I've also just left it in an old cast iron fry pan and set it on the porch. All that cord and shaping is kind of a pain so I don't always do it. I keep smaller individual balls wrapped in plastic wrap in fridge and ration it out as they run out. I made a bigger batch this time and had to add quite a bit more cornmeal. I chilled it in my pan outside because it was cold but it still took a bit longer than 30 minutes to chill. I also stirred it halfway through.

1 comment:

  1. What are the poor birds going to do when you leave for the winter? I quess I'll have to quit my job and move up there. Tehetehe