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Wildlife gardening ideas: Food for the birds

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 15:23 UK time, Monday, 30 May 2011

There are loads of ways that you can help wildlife in your garden. With just a few minutes in the kitchen you can cook up a feast for your garden birds.

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Lard: it's best to use animal fats as they have higher melting points...
Dried, unsweetened fruit
Dry mealworms
Leftovers e.g. Bits of coconut, cake, bacon rinds, oatmeal and cheese
A clean flower pot, yoghurt tub or plastic container. You can also use old coconut shells.

What to do:
Pop the lard in a pan over a medium heat. Once the lard has melted, pile in your ingredients and give them a good stir.
Pour the mix into your container and leave it somewhere cool to set.
Pop the container onto your bird table or hang it from a tree in the shade.
Keep an eye on your feeder in case it starts to melt or turns mouldy and be sure to replenish it if this should happen.

Fat feeders are perfect for the winter when birds really need the extra energy to survive the cold. In the summer there is a greater risk of the feeder melting in the heat so you must keep a close eye on them. Use animal fats in your mix as they have a higher melting point. Beef suet is a good alternative to lard. Do not use fat from cooking as the consistency of this is prone to smearing onto feathers causing birds no end of trouble. Fat from cooking is also a breeding ground for bacteria.

Check out our article for more advice on bird feeding.

Tell us your bird feeding tips and recipes below. What have you tried and tested? We'd love to know what you've discovered that works and doesn't work...


  • Comment number 1.

    Watching the birds on our feeders, notice there are very small goldfinches eating the niger seed. We are told we should continue to feed the birds throughout the year but are we not being too kind when there is plenty of 'natural' food for them, does feeding them not stop them from seeking 'natural' food?

  • Comment number 2.

    I have been watching the birds on our feeder (Shop bought wild bird seed). It looks as if the birds are being very choosy about what they take, with about two or three seeds going on the ground to each eaten. Nothing goes to waste as different birds hoover up at ground level but presumably this puts them at greater risk from cats etc'. Would we do better buying a specific seed such as niger and if so have you any recommendations?

    Also, is there anything we could / should do about bigger birds (Doves I think) seeming to drive off the smaller varieties?

  • Comment number 3.

    Please help me to help a very patient Mallard who has nested in our herb garden on our terrace five floors up overlokng the river Thames. She has nursed the eggs for about a month they must be nearly ready to hatch ,and I am concerned as to how she will get them down to the water. Should I just trust in nature, or attempt to help.
    Please advise

    Signed Worried of Kingston

  • Comment number 4.

    I mix oats, peanuts, (finely chopped in the food processor) chopped apples and raisins with enough melted lard to bind it all together. Any leftover cheese, cake or bread can also be added. for the seed feeders sunflower hearts seem to be prefered to niger seed.

  • Comment number 5.

    My boyfriend makes the birds sausages. He buys a packet of lard and ready made shortcrust pastry and mixes this up with seed, value mixed fruit, and kitchen scraps, if the scraps are too big he blitzes them in the food processor. He then rolls the dough into sausages, rolls them in a little flour and pushes them into a small log that he has drilled holes into that hangs onto the feeding pole. You can also use them in the square fat feeders, or in fact roll them into balls if you want. Any left over sausages can be stored in a box in the fridge. The process is a bit messy on the hands, but it all washes off and the sausages do not melt outside in the hot weather. They never go mouldy as they are always all eaten. The Starlings of course absolutely love them, as do the Blue Tits and Robins and I am sure this is why he has had lots of baby birds in his garden so far this year.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have some new visitors to my garden 2 goldfinches have nested, dont know how many eggs there are cannot get a good view of the nest without disturbing them. Also 2 Chaffinches pop in and out. I dont have a problem with pidgeon chasing the small birds its a cheeky blackbird that does that.

  • Comment number 7.

    Removed the "darlek" and tipped compost heap over this morning.
    Result - Very happy blackbird family! Ants (they love the eggs), Manure Worms and even a pair of scissors I lost some time ago.
    Thanks for the tip last night.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have just made some bird fat feeder and have a tip. Let the lard cool slightly, otherwise when you add mealworms and fruit they fry/cook in the oil and this smells terrible. Finished feeders look good and going to hang out tomorrow morning.

  • Comment number 9.

    Keep a mind of the danger that cats present to feeding birdies. I try to dangle my food offerings well down from a high branch but too high for a moggy to leap.

    Another consideration should be about the health benefits of the foods we offer - it is quite possible that birds could suffer adverse effects from too much fat and salt as we do - we wouldn't wan to breed hypertensive obese feathered friends now would we?

    You can find out more about high blood pressure and how to measure it here blood pressure monitoring (not for animals)
  • Comment number 10.

    we have put some of your bird mix out, birds would not come near for 2 days now have come back ,but do touch mix only eat seed and nuts ,has anyone else had this problem,my husband bill and i love to feed the birds then sit and watch them,we think they are very intelligent how they new there was something new on the bird table so took thier time to come back thanks Shirley garbett

  • Comment number 11.

    I have always put out any bread i have had left over for the birds and also hung out fat balls(shop bought)but this year i have also added a bird table to my garden and i put out mixture of mixed wild bird seed and dried meal worms,everything gets eaten everyday now the temperature has dropped but it's always the meal worms that go 1st,plus the birds don't seem so interested in the fat balls the way they were before i had the bird table.I also hang individual fat balls in my rose bush,the blue tits are safe not only from cats but also bigger birds,they don't get pushed off because i hang the balls in the tightest areas of the rose bush,and i get real treat watching the little blue tits as my rose bush is more like a tree than a bush and right by my living room window,it's great!

  • Comment number 12.

    Just bought some mixed corn for our chicken. She has now laid 61 eggs.

  • Comment number 13.



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