What you need (makes several)

  • 1 cup of bird seeds 
  • Half a pack of lard or suet 
  • Pine cones (optional)
  • String (optional)

How to make the bird cakes

There are two options for these hanging feeders: either they are formed around knots on a piece of string, or around pine cones.

  • If you are making hanging bird cakes using pine cones, first make sure that their scales have opened out, because the mix needs space to stick. You can open them out by placing them in a sunny spot or somewhere warm like in an airing cupboard or on a radiator – for a good few days.
  • Let the lard or suet get to room temperature and cut it into small pieces. 
  • Mix the lard or suet, seeds or peanuts together in the bowl. The RSPB recommends using mixtures that include flaked maize, sunflower seeds and peanut granules.
  • Take a handful of the mixture and press it into the spaces between the scales.
  • Then tie some string tightly around the pine cone and hang it from a tree.
  • If you don’t have any pine cones, simply tie some big knots all along the length of a piece of string and squeeze the bird mix over these, then hang the string from a branch. If the mixture is too runny you may need to wrap it in some grease-proof paper and refrigerate. 
  • Hang up your bird cakes! As far as possible, try to hang the feeders out of reach of cats. A good tip is that a thin branch will bear the weight of feeder and small bird, but not the weight of a cat.

If you want to put your homemade bird feed in a nice feeder, or are short of time, check out these gorgeous globe-shaped ceramic bird ball feeders in the Eden Project online shop.

Why feed the birds?

Here are three reasons to feed the birds:

  1. They’re great fun to watch and listen to in the garden.
  2. They’re helpful to gardeners because they eat pests like slugs and snails.
  3. Birds need a helping hand during the winter, when bugs and berries may be scarce.

Thanks to Sarah Worne and Barbara Wagner for the idea. Image credit: Dan Hughes

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