01 December 2011

Gifts for Bird Watchers

Birds help reduce the population of unwanted insects so gardeners encourage birds to take up residence.  Making wild-bird feeders is an ideal indoor project for your garden and to give as gifts.

Hang homemade bird feeders under the eaves or on tree limbs where family members can enjoy observing which birds show up.

GOURD OR GRAPEFRUIT BIRD FEEDER

Backyard Landscape Garden Shop
Cut off the top and hollow out a gourd, or winter squash.  Remove enough of the inside to make a bowl. Use a hammer and nail to make holes on each side where you will thread a string for hanging. Stretch the string across the opening, leaving a long piece on both sides to knot into a hanger. Large grapefruit and melon skins can also be used.

Make suet to fill the feeder. Melt ½ cup lard or bacon grease and ½ cup crunchy peanut butter in a saucepan. Stir in 1-cup oatmeal, ½ cup flour, ¼ cup sugar, 1-cup cornmeal and ¾ cup birdseed.

Pour into the hollow fruit or vegetable and chill in the refrigerator. Hang at the end of a tree branch where squirrels will be challenged to go.

GELATIN & SEED FEEDERS

This is a fun project to do with children. Cut the dough with cookie cutters and decorate with dried flowers and colorful ribbon.

Mix ¾ cup flour, and 1-package plain gelatin powder. Combine 3-Tablespoons corn syrup and ½ cup cold water. Pour the wet into the dry and beat. Stir in 2.5 cups of bird seed a little at a time, until the mixture is thick enough to work. Dried fruit or nuts can be added.

Put the mixture between 2 sheets of wax paper and flatten to the thickness of the cutter (cookie cutters, or empty tuna can). Remove the excess from the outside of the cutter, collect it on a fresh sheet of wax paper, and reuse it.

Songbird Garden
Poke a hole in each feeder with a drinking straw. Let them dry for two days. When dry, put a long piece of string, fishing twine, or colorful ribbon through the hole. Tie a bow to decorate and a knot at the top to make a hanger.

Gelatin feeders melt in the rain so hang them under the eaves or in another protected place. Or, cut a piece of cardboard or Styrofoam, poke a hole in the center, push the string through the hole and tape the two ends of the string together below the feeder roof. Tie the string ends into a loop to use as hanger.

BAKED MINI-MUFFIN BIRD FEEDERS

Yard Envy
These can be put on window sills and in tray feeders for bird watching.

Grease muffin pan and preheat oven to 400-F.

Combine 2/3 cup flour, 1 1/3 cups whole grain flour (wheat, buckwheat, etc.), 2-teaspoons baking powder, 1-cup raw sunflower seeds, ½ cup chopped raisins, ½ cup chopped dried cherries, ½ cup chopped peanuts, ¼ cup chopped dried apricots, ½ cup chopped apple, 6-slices cooked and crumbled bacon.

In another bowl combine 1 beaten egg, 2-Tablespoons corn syrup, 1-cup milk, 3-teaspoons melted butter.

Combine all. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 25 minutes.

UNBAKED BIRD SEED MUFFINS

In a pot on the stove, warm 2-cups suet. Add 1-cup breadcrumbs, 2-cups raisins, 2-cups oatmeal, and 1-cup water-moistened dog kibble. Mix well and put into cupcake pan. Put a straw in the center and chill until firm. Remove the straw and put a long ribbon or string in the hole and hang by tying the two ends together.

Branch
Tie with a ribbon, wrap in colorful plastic wrap to give to bird watchers on your holiday list.
The four illustrations are from online vendors. The links will take you to their stores - in case you don't have time to bake and stir but would like to give these to your bird loving friends and family.

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