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How to make treats for wild birds (made 3 different ways)

Wild bird treats with no corn syrup

With the weather getting colder, the leaves falling from the trees and the shutting down of my garden for the season. I am turning my attention to my DIY To-Do list. This is a very long list and sure to keep me busy all winter long. It contains such ventures as making a new dining room table, installing a wood floor in my bedroom, making a blanket ladder and making some scrabble letters for my dining room wall. Those are much more labour intensive than this DIY which was also on my list.

So I thought it best to start small and work up to the bigger ones. Plus, this DIY for wild bird treats with no corn syrup has the power to give back to the native birds that overwinter here in Ontario. Or at least to those ones that choose to pass through my back yard. ‘Cause that’s where the treats at!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

If you’re like me, then you love natural biodiversity in your yard. The key is naturally bringing in the ones you want and discouraging the ones you don’t! If you are struggling with garden pests then you may want to check out my post on 16 garden pests and how to deal with them. But birds are always welcome in my yard, especially in the winter. This year I had a pair or two of goldfinches lay their claim on my yard.

I loved being out in my garden this summer and hearing them singing and hanging about as I went about my gardening. I look so forward to the day I can buy some land and start to build my homestead from the ground up. When I finally get my land, I plan to practice biodiverse farming on my homestead but that is a story for another day.

Today we were supposed to be making suet cakes for some backyard birds but that quickly went down the drain. After multiple calls to local butchers, I discovered that NOBODY (well butchers and grocery stores) will apparently sell raw suet anymore due to it being an E. coli risk. No amount of begging and pleading on my part would change their minds. Which totally sucks as I wanted it for two reasons. One for the suet cakes and the other to render it into tallow to use in some cold process soap making. But alas, until I can find someone to be my suet dealer I am finding myself having to pivot. Luckily peanut butter works a charm and so this post is saved. That said peanut butter is not going to work for the soap!

Now I should state that you can buy pure suet cakes so I WILL be doing a post on making suet bird treats. Not sure if that will pan out for use as tallow in my cold process soap, I still need to do more research.

A little goldfinch in my backyard

Do wild birds need winter treats?

No they don’t, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy them. I mean I don’t need the tub of Haagen Daaz ice cream either but I enjoy it and it fattens me up. Same for the birds, except they can benefit from the extra fat due to them having to survive outside all winter. Me not so much 🙂

Recipe #1

This one is the easiest and quickest. Now, that is not to imply that the other ones are hard but I had to list them in some order so this is how I decided to do it. The other benefit to these ones is that if it does warm up a wee bit they have the pinecone there as a base structure. The other ones may fall to the ground if the temperature rises as the twine/ribbon doesn’t have a solid base if the treat is no longer frozen. In that case you have bird treat mush, but even then someone will make the most of it!

Pinecone & peanut butter bird treats
Pinecone & peanut butter bird treats

Pinecone & peanut butter bird treats

These are such an easy DIY and great to involves small kids in. You don't need anything fancy and the wild birds (and squirrels) will thank you for their winter treats!
Prep Time15 mins
Freezing time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins

Equipment

  • Pinecones
  • Butter knife or spatula for little kids
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Small dish or bowl for the birdseed
  • Cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil

Ingredients

  • Peanut butter
  • Wild bird seed
  • Black oiled sunflower seeds

Instructions

  • Tie the twine around the top of the pinecone and form a loop for hanging.
  • In a small dish, pour some birdseed and sunflower seeds
  • Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil
  • Using a butter knife or spatula cover the entire pinecone in peanut butter.
  • Roll and press the peanut butter covered pinecone into the seeds.
  • Place the pinecones on the cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer for 1 hour so they can firm up.
  • Hang them outside for the birds, making sure to hang them where there is a branch underneath for them to perch on.

Recipe #2

OK, so full disclosure, this is more like 2 1/2 recipes. This one uses most of the same ingredients as Recipe #1 did but with a wee tweak. Just sayin’. I wouldn’t recommend putting these ones outside until you know the temperature will stay below freezing. Why? Well there is no base structure if the mixture isn’t frozen. So the first ones I always put out are the pinecone treats.

Peanut butter bird treats
Peanut butter bird treats

Homemade Peanut Butter Treats for Wild Birds

Prep Time15 mins
Freezer Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • Wide mouth mason jar lid rings (or other moulds)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Popsicle stick

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Peanut butter (I would suggest crunchy)
  • cup Wild birdseed
  • ½ cup Sunflower seeds

Instructions

  • Add birdseed and sunflower seeds to the large mixing bowl
  • Add in the peanut butter
  • Mix using the spatula until everything is incorporated
  • Line the cookie sheet in parchment paper and place your moulds on it
  • Scoop the birdseed mixture into all the moulds and pack it down
  • Use the popsicle stick to make a hole in each treat. Make sure not to make the hole too close to the edge as there needs to be enough material so it can support its own weight. If in doubt, just make the hole in the center.
  • Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 3 hours (or until frozen solid)
  • Remove from the freezer and add twine or ribbon to each one.
  • Place these wild bird treats outside once the temperature is consistently staying below freezing.

Notes

You could reduce the amount of bird seed by 1/2 cup and replace it with the same amount of cornmeal or dried fruit.

Recipe #3

Ok so this one is hardest, which isn’t saying much as this isn’t hard at all. But from a relative perspective, to the other two recipes it is. So it’s last on the list. The main thing that I want to point out about this one is that is has NO high fructose corn syrup in it. Most of the other recipes you will find out there on Pinterest or Google will have it listed as a recipe.

So why don’t I include it in my recipe? Well, high fructose corn syrup is no good for us and we are way bigger than the wee wild birds. So by that logic I assume it must be even worse for them. So in the interest of everyone’s health let’s just leave that stuff alone (seriously it’s not good for you). It’s definitely not part of their natural diet either. So I like to make all my wild bird treats with no corn syrup.

Wild bird treats with NO corn syrup
Wild bird treats with NO corn syrup

DIY Wild Bird Treats (with NO corn syrup)

Prep Time20 mins
Freezing Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Kettle
  • Spatula
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wide mouth mason jar lid rings (or other moulds)
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Popsicle stick
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Measuring spoons

Ingredients

  • ¼ Cup Cold tap water
  • 1 Pkg Gelatin (I used Knox brand)
  • ¼ Cup Boiling water
  • 1 Cup Wild bird seed
  • ½ Cup Black oiled sunflower seeds

Instructions

  • Fill up your kettle and set it to boil
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Pour ¼ cup of cold water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the gelatin powder on top.
  • Then pour in ¼ cup of boiling water into the mixing bowl and stir constantly for 2 minutes.
  • Once the 2 minutes is up, go ahead and add your seeds and give it a stir.
  • The mixture can be a bit runny, so pop it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
  • When the mixture isn't runny anymore, fill your mason jar lids on the cookie sheet.
  • Using a popsicle stick, make a hole in each treat. Make sure not to go too close to the edge so that there is enough material to support the weight on the treat when you hang it. If in doubt, just make the hole in the center.
  • Then pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for about 2-3 hours.
  • Once the treats are completely frozen, run a butter knife around the edge of the mas jar lid and pop them out.
  • Thread the twine or ribbon through the hole and tie it in a knot.
  • Place these wild bird treats outside when the temperature is consistently below freezing.

So there you have it, my three different recipes for wild bird treats with no corn syrup. I’d love to hear how they work out for you. Did you add in any dried fruit? Did the birds in your area like them or did the squirrels get them all first? I watched one pesky squirrel steal a pinecone one this morning as I was sipping on my morning coffee!

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