3 wintertime treats that wild birds love

Among the many joys of gardening is creating a sanctuary where birds like to visit. A good way to keep them flocking to your yard instead of heading south for winter is by ensuring your bird feeder is always full of treats. Here are three favourites wild birds love that you can easily make for pennies.

3 wintertime treats that wild birds love

[Image Credit: iStock.com/Jello5700]

1. Wild bird suet and seeds mix

This easy and inexpensive recipe – better than a store-bought packet of birdseed – will attract a wide variety of colourful and interesting birds including doves, woodpeckers, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, cardinals, goldfinches and many other species, depending on where you live.

Makes: 500 grams (two cups)
Preparation time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 125 g (1/2 c.) sunflower seeds
  • 125 g (1/2 c.) cracked corn
  • 125 g (1/2 c.) raisins
  • 125 g (1/2 c.) crunchy homemade peanut butter or salt- and sugar-free commercial chunky peanut butter

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Press the mixture into an empty suet feeder or small string bag.
  3. Hang the feeder in a tree.

2. Quick and delicious wild-bird treat

Love doughnuts? Believe it or not, birds do too. That's why you shouldn't discard day-old doughnuts. They're great for enticing feathered visitors to your backyard: these oily, carb-rich treats make a high-energy food that will help keep wild birds warm in winter.

"Serving" suggestions
Exactly how would you serve a doughnut to a bird? Easy!

  1. Drive one or more nails into a fence post or tree trunk at eye level.
  2. Hang a glazed cake or yeast doughnut on each nail.
  3. Sit back and enjoy watching a congregation of hungry birds devour them.

3. Homemade premium wild-bird mix

Why buy pricey, inferior-quality wild birdseed blends when you can mix your own at home for much less money? The birds will love it just as much as the store-bought stuff.

  • The key is to buy premium individual types of seeds in bulk (available at feed, home improvement centres and certain pet stores stores) and combine them yourself. It's both quick and easy.

A good source of protein, the addition of mealworms to your bird feeders may entice elusive bluebirds to visit.

  • Mealworms can be purchased at most pet stores and online.

Makes: 2.5 kilograms (five pounds)
Preparation time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb.) striped sunflower seeds, hulls on
  • 500 g (1 lb.) black-oil sunflower seeds, hulls on
  • 500 g (1 lb.) raw peanuts
  • 500 g (1 lb.) dark raisins, dried blueberries, apples, or other dried fruits, chopped
  • 500 g (1 lb.) cracked corn
  • 1 small container live mealworms (optional)

Directions

  1. In a pest-proof metal container with a tight lid, mix the striped sunflower seeds, black-oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, fruit and cracked corn together. Store container in a cool area, such as your basement or garage.
  2. Store mealworms as per instructions on the package, likely in a refrigerated spot.
  3. Spread one or two scoops of the seed mixture onto a tray-type feeder and sprinkle with mealworms.

Storing the mixture

It's important to store the mixture in a metal container.

  • Mice can (and will) chew through plastic bins or bags to reach the seed inside. As for the mealworms, don't add too many – a light sprinkling will do – if the weather is warm. The cold will freeze the mealworms and preserve them for the birds.

The vivid colours and lovely songs of wild birds are a joy to see and hear in the bleak winter garden. A few well-stocked bird feeders with treats of your own making is a surefire way to keep these feathered friends coming back all year round.

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