Those of you who follow my blog realize how I adore hosting wild birds in my central Virginia gardens. With frequent coaching from a local naturalist and a bluebird guru, I confidently care for wild feathered visitors year round.
Being a long-time foodie, I could not resist reinventing a wild bird banquet recipe found in The Bluebird Monitor’s Guide.
I confess, I am suspicious of any food that is genetically modified (GMO) and seek organic foods for me and my food clients, so why not for the birds???
Also an avid label reader, I find most bird foods do not list country of origin, date of production, nor GMO ingredients. Therefore, I avoid all commercially produced mixes.
Suet (the hard fat surrounding the kidneys and loins of beef and mutton) is another concern, as I strongly suspect that its source comes from beef feedlots in the mid-west US. Again, I do not condone industrial meat production. When I inspect suet block labels, nada. When asked, retailers do not know origins either. Call me fanatic, yet until there is definitive, credible proof that GMO grains and feedlot suet are safe, I will avoid them like the plague.
Diane’s Recipe for Winter Wild Bird Buffet ~ Swallowtail Cottage
In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt:
1 cup freshly ground, unsalted peanut butter (I grind this fresh at my local market where they guarantee NO-GMO)
1 cup vegetable shortening (Spectrum organic palm oil OR organic coconut oil) NO CRISCO! Recently, I used TJ’s sunflower oil and it works just fine too.
When just melted remove from heat and add:
- 4 cups stone ground corn meal (I use a local Indian corn heirloom variety)
1 cup raw rolled oats, ground to a fine powder in a food processor
2 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds, roughly chopped in food processor
2 cup chopped currants
1 cup raw, unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped in processor
- 1/2 cup organic egg shells, finely ground in a spice or coffee grinder (save shells from hard-cooked eggs, never raw shells.) Extra ground shells keep well in a glass jar in the pantry for one month. (I dry the peeled shells overnight on the kitchen counter at room temperature before grinding.)
- Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold all ingredients together. Allow to cool before serving your feathered friends.This recipe yields a gracious plenty.
- Store unused portions in the refrigerator in a sealed tub.
- I source all ingredients from my local health-conscious store’s bulk department—where prices are competitive AND I know offerings are non-GMO, and often organic.
- After a few days, I often add additional chopped currants or sunflower seeds to the mix, depending what the birds consider most popular that batch.
- NOTE: this is a winter food recipe for wild birds, as the oil will melt during summer months, and the birds can forage for live insects, which is their preferred food.
Why chop/grind ingredients, you may ask? Considering birds have only one tool (beak) to process edibles, I decided to make their dining experience in my gardens a wee bit less labor intensive.
Wild birds expend tremendous energy simply surviving single-digit temperatures and deep snow during winter months. One simple, human step added to the bird banquet becomes a precious energy-saving step for the birds. Furthermore, serving large, whole seed with husks leads to overall food waste, as many wild birds fly in, grab a morsel, and fly off to a twig where they pound/peck seeds into manageable sizes, often losing bits of goodness during the process. Make sense?
Other favorite bird foods:
The attached recipe is gobbled up by at least eleven over-wintering species of wild birds in my central Virginia gardens. Additionally, I put millet out in a separate platform feeder for those birds who enjoy that seed.
Mealworms are another treat for many birds, yet NEVER feed those freeze-dried worms! They are all from CHINA, and we have no idea what standards apply there. I order insects year-round from a reliable US company at http://www.grubco.com. Live mealworms are essential food for bluebird nestlings and they are simple to care for.
NOTE: Please keep a source of fresh water available during daylight hours. This is critical during winter months when creeks and streams are frozen solid. Thirsty birds could easily drink from a salt-laden or antifreeze puddle that would cause an agonizing death. I place a small water heater (designed for this purpose) in the bird bath on days when temps do not rise above freezing.
So there you are fellow bird lovers…consider this winter recipe for your feathered friends. And if you want a refresher course on clean food, view the documentaries,
Food Inc. and King Korn. My case rests…
Disclaimer: thoughts published here and throughout this blog are mine and in no way do I benefit from businesses/publications mentioned within.
Post Note: My Spring/Warm Weather Wild Bird Buffet Recipe is a combo of shelled sunflower seeds and currents and a dash of corn meal (NON-GMO). I buy all in bulk at my local health food-minded market. Just whirl seeds and berries in a food processor until slightly chopped (remember this saves the birds labor and morsel loss), add the corn meal, ground organic/cooked egg shells (2-3 T), then sprinkle with a bit of sunflower oil to moisten. While the weather remains on the cool side, I add peanut butter (NON-GMO) to the mix. The oil and peanut butter help the egg-shell powder stick to the seed. Portions are approximate and it will work. Birds are not picky! If I notice one ingredient being consumed faster, I add more of that next batch.
I also serve plain organic millet in a separate feeder, as plenty of wild birds enjoy this too. Happy birding!
2015 Updated Bird Buffet Recipe
During the frozen months of November to March, I feed a simple recipe of organically sourced seeds/butters from the bulk department of my local green grocer.
To a food processor, add 2C of sunflower seeds, 1C of dry currents, 1/2C chunky peanut butter OR 1/4 cup of sunflower oil and process until bulk is reduced, yet not mush. By reducing the seeds to little bits, the birds are spared the extra labor of pecking large seeds into edible sizes. Whenever I boil eggs, I dry the clean shells overnight on the counter and grind them to a powder in a coffee grinder, then add to a batch of seed buffet.
Try this, your wild birds will thank you!
Copyright © 2014 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved