Many birds, such as chickadees, cardinals, titmice and nuthatches, love bird seed cakes. Making your own natural seed feeders with unflavored gelatin provides an indoor activity for cold winter days and saves money. Once you’ve mastered the basic method, experiment with different shapes and designs and try a variety of fruits, seeds and nuts. For a basic science experiment, children can note the types of birds attracted by different ingredients. Homemade bird feeders, decorated with ribbon, acorns or dried flowers, also make inexpensive, useful gifts.
- ¾ cup flour
- ½ cup water
- 3 tbsp. corn syrup
- 1 package plain, clear gelatin
- Bag of commercial bird seed
- Cookie cutters
- Drinking straw
- Wax paper
- Dried fruit pieces
You can also use this recipe to make square seed cakes that fit into the wire suet cake feeders available at hardware stores. Use a baking pan to mold the seed mixture and, once dried, cut the cakes to the size of the feeder.
Include black oil sunflower seeds in all of your seed cakes. According the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this seed attracts the widest variety of birds and, because of its thin shell, is easy for almost all seed eaters to crack open. It also provides a high fat content that is important for birds' winter survival.
Make sure you don't have too much gelatin mixture and not enough seeds or birds may not be attracted to your feeder.
Mix together the flour, water, corn syrup and gelatin in a large bowl. Use ice cold water to help the gelatin set quickly.
Add bird seed, a little at a time, to the gelatin mixture. Keep adding seed until the dough is thick and workable. Consider adding nuts and fruit pieces.
Scoop the mixture onto wax paper and spread it out until it is about the same thickness as your cookie cutters. Cut out the shapes and remove the extra mixture from around the molds. Spread this excess mixture onto another sheet of wax paper and cut in the same way.
Poke a hole near the top of the cut shapes with a drinking straw. Let the seed cakes dry for eight hours. Then, turn the cakes over and let them dry for another eight hours.
Loop a small piece of string through the hole once the cakes are completely dry. The feeders are now ready to hang from trees and bushes in your yard.
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About the Author
Laura McGowan has written and edited for universities and educational publishers for more than 13 years. She has also covered gardening and wild plant and animal life of Illinois and brings expertise in vegan and vegetarian cooking, Apple computers and Labrador Retrievers. McGowan holds a Master of Arts in English literature.