I love birds. They are such an interesting animal and that's partly due to the fact flying is so cool and freeing. Like imagine you could fly around like a bird. I feel like that's one of those things 99% of people think about at least once in their lives. Just flying around, completely free. Plus, think how awesome the world looks from up there. When I was younger I had a couple parakeets, Avalanche and Aurora. Both of them ended up being little ladies and laid eggs too which was very interesting. Then they slipped out and flew away... but we're not going to get into that.
One thing that I love though is just the birds outside the window. There are a lot out there. Back in California I had a bird dish outside the kitchen window and there were so many birds. Year after year they got used to the free seeds and more and more would show up. After moving to Missouri of course that was one thing that needed to happen again. Plus, being in a colder winter climate, the native birds won't get as much seed during these months so I can help local populations. Surprisingly there are quite a few species that winter in Missouri. Of course the cardinal, a family favorite. The red males in the winter stand out so much and are just breathtaking. One that I really love after discovering here is the chickadees. First they're small and cute. They have black heads with a white stripe slightly under their eye that makes it look like eyeliner. And their names is just hilarious, chickadee.
This time around with so many squirrels, I only have hanging bird feeders. One is seeds but a new one I got is a suet holder. I've never used one before but something different to try. With the feeder I got a couple suet cakes which are like compact seeds held together with frosting, but it's definitely not frosting. As they started to wear down though, rather than buying new ones I figured I'd look to see about making my own. How hard could it be?
I went to my favorite nature site, the Farmer's Almanac. They had two recipes for suet. One with peanut butter and a little honey, the other with lard. I figured why not make mine with both? I don't typically use lard in cooking but I could make an exception for the birdies. And of course natural peanut butter runs fast through my kitchen so that was always in stock. Rather than just sunflower seeds like online though, I wanted to use the blend that they already love in the other feeder. Plus a lot of seed I already could use. The recipe below is what I came up with. About equal amounts of lard and peanut butter, then enough seeds to make a slightly thicker mixture. Spread in a pan, cool, cut, and it was ready.
16 oz. Lard
about 1 cup Natural Peanut Butter
5-6 cups Bird Seed Blend
In a heat safe bowl, melt the lard and peanut butter together either in the microwave or over the stove.
Add seeds and make sure after sitting in the bowl slightly, no lard or peanut butter is sitting on top. This means you have a good amount.
Pour into an 8 inch by 8 inch square pan lined with parchment paper.
Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely.
Cut into 4 pieces (or whatever will fit into suet holder).
Wrap and refrigerate unused blocks until needed.
Now I'll be 100% honest I was skeptical if the birds would like this. Using lard for it seemed really odd and I wasn't sure the birds would be into that. I placed one into the holder outside the kitchen window and within minutes a bird came over and was checking it out. I was really excited. This is a simple way to keep feeding these little guys and girls through the winter without the waste of plastic wrapped store bought suet. I wrapped the other blocks in parchment and placed them into the fridge until I need to restock. For now though the birds seem happy, and I get to keep enjoying them outside the kitchen all winter long!