No bird feeder? No problem. Try these easy homemade ways of feeding your local birds this winter.
1. Cardboard roll bird feeder
A simple cardboard tube feeder is easy to make and a quick tasty treat for birds. Photo: Emma Pocklington
- A cardboard tube (a kitchen roll is perfect)
- Two long sticks or skewers
- Some lard or suet
- A piece of string
First, make four holes in one end of your cardboard tube, these must be large enough for your sticks or skewers, but not so large that the sticks slide out. Make sure the holes opposite each other line up so that you can thread your stick through. Next, make two small holes opposite each other in the other end of your tube. Use a knife to cover your roll in lard or suet, vegetarian varieties are good too. Roll the tube in bird seed so that the seed sticks to the lard. Finally, carefully thread the sticks through to make a cross shape, and attached a piece of string to the two top holes. Then you’re ready to hang your feeder outside!
2. Orange bird feeder
The beauty of this feeder is that you can fill it with scraps as well as shop-bought seed. Photo: iStock
- A large orange
- Assorted nuts and seeds
This one is really simple, simply cut a large orange in half and scoop out the insides. Then, thread two pieces of string through the orange so that it hangs upright. Fill the orange with whatever bird food you fancy. You could stick with birdseed or try peanuts, mealworms, suet, dried fruit or even leftovers such as cheese or cake.
3. Homemade fat cake
Homemade fat cakes allow for endless tasty variations. Photo: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
- Suet or lard
- An old yoghurt pot
This is a great one to do with kids, as everyone can blend their own secret ingredients and see which the birds like best. Melt the suet or lard in a bowl (you can use vegetarian lard if you wish) and mix in seeds, nuts, oatmeal, dried fruit, cheese or cake. Meanwhile, make a small hole in the base of a yoghurt pot and run a string through. When you tip the mixture into the yoghurt pot, be sure to run the tail of the string through the centre of the mixture so that it will be firmly fixed in the middle when set. Leave in the fridge until set. When the cake is set you can pop it out of the yoghurt pot and hang it in your garden. Alternatively, simply turn the pot out onto your bird table, or leave it out for birds in another container, such as a cup or empty coconut shell.
REMEMBER: Don’t use cooking fat in bird feeders as the meat juices present are not good for birds’ feathers. Also avoid margarines, vegetable oils, milk, desiccated coconut and any mouldy food. If using peanuts, salted or dry roasted peanuts should not be used. Peanuts can be high in a natural toxin, which can kill birds, so buy from a reputable dealer to guarantee freedom from aflatoxin. You can find more guidance on what to give birds here, and buy bird seed mixes, including peanuts, from the RSPB Shop.