Since moving into a house with a yard, Andrew and I have become ridiculous bird nerds. We count the different birds who visit our feeders, devise devious plans to thwart Mr Squirrel (while never following through cuz we can't *actually* be that cruel) and excitedly text pictures of new birds at the feeders to each other so neither of us misses a bird opportunity.
Concurrently, Andrew and I have been pouring the bacon fat from the pan into glass jars in order to avoid damaging our sewage systems. This is mostly the result of being a napkin and papertowel free home. And you know, trying to decrease *some* of the fat we ingest (hah).
I had in my mind a vague idea that I could make my own "suet" birder feeder blocks with the bacon fat and for weeks talked about it but never followed through. Until the past weekend. Within a day of putting in the block our DIY bacon fat "suet" bird feeders were devoured. Although it was probably mostly Mr Squirrel, we did see chickadees and crows mow down on the block. Success!
(Quick note on the fact that we used bacon fat instead of suet. Suet is actually a part of pig fat and is actually better for birds since it has much less salt. After some research, it would appear the salt may not be so great for animals.... but a few sites felt that mixed in with other ingredients it should be just fine. My thought? We have bacon fat available and this is a way to reuse everything from our cooking. If you don't feel comfortable using bacon fat, or you don't eat bacon (good for you!) you can purchase suet from your local butcher).
Despite the fact that melting the bacon fat was a little gross, the entire process for making the block feeders was ridiculously easy and took virtually no time at all. PLUS, they freeze easily, so can keep for long periods of time.
DIY Block Bird Feeders: (recipe from David Suzuki)
1 cup of suet/vegetable shortening (or bacon fat)
1 cup of unsalted natural peanut butter (this is even MORE important if you're using bacon fat, the less salt otherwise you can add as possible, the better)
4 cups of bird seed (or dried fruit/legumes/grains)
1 cup of flour
- Melt the fat into a small saucepan. (If you're using bacon fat, your kitchen will smell like delicious bacon, be forewarned.)
- In a large bowl add the peanut butter, flour and bird seed. Mix together.
- Pour the fat into the bowl and mix together
- Spread mixture into a tin (I used a 9x9 cake pan so I could cut it into four blocks, but you could use muffin tins or bread loaf pans)
- Allow to cool (I placed mine in the fridge to avoid cat damage)
- Cut into blocks, using a spatula remove blocks.
- Place in a wire cage suet feeder (or mesh bag)
- For storage: freeze