Holiday Recipes and Treats for Wild Birds
By PH Macayo
Macayo reminds us: While you are baking and cooking for your companion flock for the holidays, don't forget your wild feathered friends! Here are some ideas for decorating your yard and trees with festive, edible treats. These make wonderful gifts for the wild bird lovers in your family, too. Use either the suet or birdseed/fruit mixture to form the decorations that follow.
Holiday Peanut Butter Suet
2 cups chunky peanut butter
1 cup lard (animal fat-based if possible)
2 cups oats
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup white flour
Melt lard and peanut butter together; add the rest, plus mixed seeds, fresh cranberries, orange pieces, and other colorful additions.
Birdseed and Fruit Mixture
Edible Glue: 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, 3 Tbsp. corn syrup (add package of plain Knox gelatin for extra holding power if necessary).
Add 4 cups birdseed and peanuts, fruits, berries, raisins, or anything else the birds enjoy.
Stars and Wreaths
Cover tray with waxed paper; roll out mixture 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Use cookie cutters or shape mixture into stars and wreaths. Freeze if using the suet. For birdseed mixture, let dry 4-6 hours; remove cookie cutters; turn over and dry 4-6 hours more. Use raffia to hang from trees.
Coat outside of 2-1/4" diameter peat pots with the suet mixture or use a paintbrush to coat with the edible glue and then roll in birdseed and place on waxed paper to dry for 4-6 hours. Use needle and thread to string 4-5 cranberries for clappers; pass needle through top of bell and knot at top. Use paper-twists or raffia bows to decorate at top and double as hangers.
Birdseed BellsStuffed Pine Cones
Gather cones that are partially opened. Stuff with the suet mixture or chunky peanut butter and cornmeal mixture (better for the birds than peanut butter alone). Use raffia or colorful string to hang.
Dried Fruit Wreaths and Garlands
For Wreaths: Thread a large darning needle with cotton string or dental floss. Make a knot 4-6" from one end. String dried fruit (apricots, papaya, oranges, raisins, etc.) until enough to form a small wreath. Knot string together to secure circle, leaving enough string at each end to form hanger loop. Use paper-twists or raffia to decorate.
Garlands look festive in outside trees. Thread a large needle with a 3 to 6 foot length of cotton string or dental floss. After stringing the ingredients, loop and knot each end for hanger loops. String with the following:
Pretzels (unsalted), peanuts in shells, dried fruits, pine cones, sprigs of holly or pine, knotting string around the larger pieces.
Colored-kernel popcorn, dried fruit.
Roll fresh cranberries in lightly beaten egg whites and then in superfine granulated sugar (lightly). Place on waxed paper to dry before stringing.