Immediately when I discovered National Bird Day, I had a handful of recipes in mind: Ortolan bunting, Foie Gras, Balut... Then I realized that would be like eating a Veteran on Veteran's Day or your Valentine on Valentine's Day, so I switched gears. Here are some recipes for birds, not of them.
Who Needs A Cape shares this recipe for suet that I'd eat myself...
PREP TIME10 minutes COOK TIME15 minutes TOTAL TIME25 minutes
1/2 c. rendered fat or lard
2 c. old-fashioned oats (not instant)
2 c. chunky peanut butter
2 c. beef broth
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. raisins/dried cranberries or chopped nuts (optional)
1-1/2 c. wild bird seed
Squares of wax paper (to put between sliced cakes for storage)
In a large pot, combine lard, oatmeal, peanut butter, broth and sugar, stirring frequently.
Heat to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Simmer for 20 mins. or so, or until mixture is the consistency of thick oatmeal.
Stir in raisins and/or nuts.
Remove from heat and stir in bird seed.
Pour into mold and put in freezer, cooling until hardened.
Once hardened, remove suet "brick" from freezer and allow it to soften slightly to ease in cutting.
Store thawed cakes in refrigerator for up to one week or refreeze with a sheet of wax paper in between.
The Spruce has guides you through suet here.
Birds and Blooms lists these kitchen scraps as suitable for healthy feathered foragers:
Cooked pasta and rice
Melon, pumpkin, and squash seeds
Bird Spot gives the following tips:
Stale bread, crusts, cakes and biscuits can all be fed to birds although don’t put out large quantities as they don’t have much nutritional value. Break up large pieces and soak any stale or dry pieces in a little water to prevent birds choking on them. Birds will also happily eat uncooked pastry as long as it is not overly sweet or salted.
Mild grated cheeses such as Cheddar are popular with birds; soft cheeses such as brie, blue cheeses such as Stilton and cream cheese aren’t suitable.
Birds will have difficulty digesting many raw vegetables but peas and sweetcorn are suitable as are leftover mashed or jacket potatoes. Remove the skins first.
Cooked pasta and rice are great sources of carbohydrates. Make sure the pieces are soft and small enough. Do not put out any leftover pasta that is coated in rich sauces or strong cheese.
Don’t put out raw meat for birds as most birds are unable to digest it. However, unsalted bacon, bacon fat, beef fat and marrow bones are an excellent source of protein if insects are in short supply.
Both wet and dry pet food for cats and dogs can be a healthy food source for birds. Dry food will need to be crushed or soaked before putting out as birds could choke on large pieces.
Birds will enjoy eating windfalls and bruised fruits. Leave the fruit on the ground for birds to peck away at or chop and add to feeders or place on the bird table. Soaked dried food are another popular food particularly with softbills.
Stale cereal and oats are tasty bird treats. Do not put out cereal with a high sugar or salt content or cereal that has been soaked in milk and do not put out cooked oats which can harden around a bird’s beak. [Let me just clarify, they do not mean processed breakfast cereals.]
Peanuts, almonds, pecans and walnuts are all popular with birds. Do not offer salted nuts and chop the nuts into small pieces during breeding season so baby chicks cannot choke on them. Coconut halves can be hung up or filled with fat and seed.
Cooked eggs have many essential nutrients for birds and crushed egg shells provide calcium for nesting birds and grit to help with their digestion.
Ensure that the area where you feed your birds is kept clean to keep vermin such as rats away. Put out small quantities and sweep any debris from the ground. Birds will not eat food that has gone off so regularly clear away old food and disinfect the area to prevent the spread of bacteria.
The Audubon attracts woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other insect loving burbs with this vegetarian suet recipe:
• 1 1/2 cups shortening (look for palm oil free options)
• 3/4 cups nut butter (any kind)
• 3 1/2 cups wild bird seed
• 1 cup quick oats
• 1/2 cup corn meal
• Ice cube tray
1. Mix the dry ingredients of bird seed, oats, and corn meal together and set aside.
2. Combine the shortening and nut butter in a separate bowl and melt. Stir until completely combined.
3. Pour the melted mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
4. Spoon mixture into the ice cube tray.
5. Freeze for one to two hours and place in your suet feeder!
Note: Not recommended for outdoor temperatures above 50 degrees .
If you prefer to attract birds with fancy accents and a penchant for dry yet vulgar humor, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK graciously offers this beauty:
STUFF YOU NEED
Good quality bird seed
Suet or lard
Important notes Not suitable for children with nut allergies. Note that bird seed, including peanuts bought for birds, is not suitable for human consumption. Step-by-step guide
Carefully make a small hole in the bottom of a yoghurt* pot. Thread string through the hole and tie a knot on the inside. Leave enough string so that you can tie the pot to a tree or your bird table.
Allow the lard to warm up to room temperature, but don’t melt it. Then cut it up into small pieces and put it in the mixing bowl.
Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix them together with your finger tips. Keep adding the seed/raisin/cheese mixture and squidging** it until the fat holds it all together.
Fill your yoghurt pots with bird cake mixture and put them in the fridge to set for an hour or so.
Hang your speedy bird cakes from trees or your bird table. Watch for greenfinches, tits and possibly even great spotted woodpeckers.
Whatever you decide to give to your birdie buds, just make sure it's not human processed or junk foods. They can become ill or dependent (like humans) and it'll do more harm than good. Stick to the stuff you know you should eat more of but it was neglected and now...hahaha...for the birds.
/ Yoghurt (yō′gərt)
n. A custardlike food with a tart flavor, prepared from milk curdled by bacteria, especially Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, and often sweetened or flavored; yogurt
/ Squidging (skwɪdʒ)
vb, informal to squash or squeeze (something soft) or (of something soft) to become squashed