The other day I decided to make my own bird feeders and it turned out to be the perfect lockdown project – it kept me busy for an entire evening and now that they are hanging up in our apple tree, watching the birds has turned out to be the most exciting thing going on right now. Every time a bird lands on one of the little perch sticks, someone in the house shouts ‘a bird, a bird’ and we all run to the window to have a look. Hours of fun – who would have thought! So there’s another thing lockdown has taught us. The materials for this are all things from around the house, the only thing I had to buy was lard. And the ribbon bow ties are optional off course – I think they look super sweet and right now when the garden is at it’s bleakest, having those tiny specks of colour to focus on really helps.
Here is everything you need: some empty loo rolls, twigs, garden twine, masking tape, oats, plain unsalted peanuts, currants, breadcrumbs and lard. I used a tray covered with baking parchment to place the bird feeders on while they set. To hang the feeders up I used some old blue cotton ribbon that I had at home but of course you could just use string if you prefer.
First make a small hole through the loo roll three of four centimetres up from the bottom. Put a twig through both holes and trim to size. You want about 6 cm of twig sticking out on either side for the birds to perch on.
Next get your twine and make a loop around the twig inside the loo roll, threading the twine ends through the loop to secure it. Then pull the twine up through the top of the loo roll. Put some masking tape across the bottom of each one, making sure it goes some way up the sides to secure it.
Now you need to make the feed mixture. You want roughly one part lard to two parts dry ingredients. I blitzed the oats and peanuts first to get a crumb like texture, that seems more suitable to tiny little birds than big whole oats. Melt the lard in a saucepan and add the rest of the ingredients, stirring until everything is nicely combined. Now you can fill your loo rolls up, making sure to push the mixture down towards the bottom so you don’t get any air gaps. As you can see from this photo, some lard seeped out through the bottom but it worked just fine anyway. Now put the feeders in the fridge overnight to set. Once they feel firm, peel away the loo roll and they are ready to hang up outside.
Hang your feeders somewhere sheltered from the wind but with clear views all around so the birds can see any predators that might be lurking around while they feed. And you definitely want to be able to see them from a window. Any spare feeders can go in the freezer until you need them. If you haven’t fed the birds in your garden before, it can take some time for them to find the food so be patient. But once they have discovered it they will tell all their friends and you bird restaurant will be busy.