January. The month of diets, booze abstinence, exercise fads and a never-ending stream of excuses for not doing these things that begin with ‘It’s January…’. This is the month we all dread, where the festivities and cosiness of Christmas have suddenly disappeared like all the good chocolates out the box, leaving us with nothing but a slight paunch around the midriff and a mountain of emails to battle.
But this isn’t just a hard month for us. Outside, food is scarce yet the biting cold requires more energy to keep warm. Birds in particular need an extra helping hand, having not had the excesses of Christmas to build up the calories throughout December like us. Putting out food for your garden birds is always an important thing to add to your January to-do list, and something I do every year. The birds will greatly benefit from this and on top of that, you could see a lot more visitors flitting through your garden.
The best ingredients to help your birds through the winter are ones that include fat – birds are most definitely one species that should not be on a diet at this time in the year. This means nuts, seeds, nut butter, dried fruit, bread crumbs…some recipes even use vegetable suet and lard as the base. I didn’t have either of these to hand, so I used nut butter instead and found it worked just as well. This is a super simple recipe that you can change about as you wish!
First up you need a plastic pot – I used an empty humous container, but small yogurt pots work just as well. Make sure it is washed out thoroughly and dry. Then add in a good few dollops (technical terms here…) of nut butter – I used a combination of peanut and almond butter, as I find the consistency of almond butter much better to work with.
Then, add in whatever seeds you like; I used sunflower and pumpkin seeds, but any good bird seed will also do. Then a little scattering of dried fruit and some desiccated coconut, give it a good mix around. Some folks also use mealworms at this point too which is a great idea, but if you’re a little squeamish they’re not a necessity.
Then, fold a loop of string as a handle and push it deep down into your mixture – you need something for your cake to hang on! – and voile! A lovely little bird feeder. Pop it in the freezer for at least overnight. When it’s fully set, take it out and snip off the plastic container – in the spirit of Blue Peter, if you’re a littlie, get an adult to help you 🙂 – and you should have a hanging bird cake! You can hang these on bushes or trees, and watch the birds come.
So there you go – super easy peezy and simple – but effective. To be honest, anything can help; I also put out half a coconut, you can use left over Christmas pudding, stale bread, stuffing…the extra help the birds will appreciate greatly. Just make sure you’re placing these high up, as birds feeding on the ground will be vulnerable to the local moggies!
I look forward to seeing which birds will be attracted to my garden. I’ve recently noticed a pair of Blue tits are becoming regular visitors, and I have hopes they will start nesting in the fir trees that border the back of the garden. Hopefully the extra sustenance will help, and it makes January seem that little bit brighter.