Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Starving Birds

Like lots of the rest of England last week we had snow: 7 inches deep in the garden. This is a lot for our part of the UK, and it still covers the garden in a thick layer.

I came across a plea last week for people to put out food for the birds. With the ground covered or frozen, they can't get at their normal sources of food.

For the crafty among us, feeding birds does not have to be just a case of chucking out a few birdseeds: we can cook some bird cakes. These are definitely not "people cakes", but a mix of nuts (not salted), dried fruit, and biscuit crumbs held together by melted lard. There are lots of recipes on the web (and another one below).

We don't normally get many birds in our garden: there are too many local cats who cross through it, and anyway the countryside is over the fence. But in the last week there have been lots of birds: the crab apples which I felt guilty about leaving on the tree are all eaten now, and this means that probably there is very little food for them.

This morning, we had four pheasants come into our garden. We sometimes get one or two, but I have never seen more then that. But today, there were four.

As a craft-blogger, I know you will have fun making bird cakes. You may have the ingredients already - lard left over from making pastry for mince pies, the open pack of dried fruit that looked a bit too iffy for Christmas baking and maybe a pack of out-of-date walnuts. (Or is that just my cupboard?) Melt the lard and mix in the other ingredients. (I soaked the chopped apricot in boiling water for a few minutes first, because they were completely dried out.) Meanwhile prepare some yoghurt pots by making a hole in the bottom and threading string/wool through them: as I didn't have any yoghurt pots availble I lined a ramekin with greaseproof paper through which I'd threaded my string. Tip in the mix and leave to harden. When ready, tie to a tree.

Ideally, you will keep doing this til spring: the birds' reserves are spent, and they need to keep going until the breeding season. But even just a few times will help.

PS Please consider publicising this if you have a blog. Thank you.


Karen Siddiqi said...

Fun! I remember making cakes like that with my mom when I was a kid. I should do that here, too, in Georgia, USA.

Shan said...

Unless you have rat issues.....then you have to think twice about bird feeders, especially ones made of lard.