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Make your own bird food

Cooking is for the birds

Scrounging for seeds or berries in harsh winter conditions can’t be all that easy for our feathered friends. Although the experts say that birds –will– survive through the winter without our help, many bird lovers enjoy making bird food to attract them. You don’t have to be a gourmet cook to make bird food, and it’s a fun activity for the whole family.

Bill Johnson is a birding expert with Bird Watcher's Digest.  He lives on 80-acres and has been an avid birder for years. He makes his own bird mix by buying black oil sunflower seeds, thistle seed, millet, peanuts, and cracked corn in bulk, then combining them. He scatters it under pine trees for anyone with feathers who’s hungry. Even wild turkeys waddle in for a meal.

In colder weather, birds also need high-energy food.  So Johnson makes a suet-based product he calls “Miracle Meal”.

"We melt down a two-pound tub of lard and we melt down a couple of jars of industrial peanut butter, we use some old fashioned rolled oats and some corn meal and mix all that stuff together, and it comes out into sort of a mashed potato kind of consistency but a little more granular," says Johnson.

Johnson scoops a few spoonfuls into flower pot water basins and old plastic bird baths. His cooking attracts all kinds of birds – they actually hang out and wait for Bill and his wife to serve breakfast every morning!

"In the winter, this time of year, we get a lot of bluebirds, juncos, a bunch of different sparrows coming to it, Carolina wrens," says Johnson. "In the summer we get brown thrashers, catbirds and mockingbirds coming to it of course the Carolina wrens still come in.  We’ve even had a few warblers stop and eat it because all the birds that eat insects during the summer need to switch over to some other source of protein in the winter."

Some birders recommend separating seed instead of mixing them together so you can determine which food certain birds prefer.

Bird feeding: Here are tips for attracting birds to your yard, and a chart that demonstrates which birds like which type of seed.

Decorate a tree for the birds: Learn how to make orange cups, bread cookies and stuffed pinecones, then decorate a tree with these and other delicious treats for birds.

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