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
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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.
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
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.
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.