Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Recipe is for the Birds

Last week we blogged about the thousands of geese that have arrived at Hagerman NWR to spend the winter. Today we are narrowing the focus to our own backyard, where winter weather is bringing more birds to our feeders; all the songbirds we get love this homemade bird food. The recipe originally came from a co-worker, years ago, who showed me how to take a section of tree branch, 1-1/2 inches or more in diameter, drill some holes in it, add a screw eye on one end, and hang near your other bird feeders. Then you pack the holes with the mix. For a time we also spread it on an old flat plastic grater with a handle for hanging - that worked well until a raccoon or possum departed with it one night. And some people simply slather it on the rough bark of a tree trunk.

The easiest method to make the bird food is to use a food processor, but you can use a mixer or simply work with your hands to blend the ingredients in a large bowl:

Basic ingredients: flour, cornmeal, lard, peanut butter

Optional add-ins - peanuts or other nuts, raisins or other dried fruit (chop these before adding, if not using a food processor)

Start with about 1 cup each of flour and of cornmeal, 1/4 cup each lard and peanut butter and mix well. Add more of the fats if too dry, or more dry ingredients if too soft. Blend in optional add-ins once you have the desired consistency, a "dough" that is not sticky. Store in a sealed container. We use it quickly enough that we have no problems with the mix becoming rancid but you could make smaller batches until your bird visitors get “hooked” on it.

Making the feeder and a batch of the mix for a gift is also a good holiday project for children. Similar feeders and dough can also be purchased ready-to-use in specialty bird retail stores.

Winter birds abound at Hagerman NWR, witness the bird survey highlights posted each week on the Friends Facebook page and website. The annual Christmas Bird Count for Hagerman NWR will be held Saturday, December 18; for details and to participate, see the December edition of the Featherless Flyer,

The official site for Hagerman NWR is ; for information about activities and programs of the Friends, please visit .

This week's post contributed by blog editor, Sue Malnory. Photo of Carolina Wren at feeder, by Dick Malnory

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