Sunday, February 20, 2011

Do-it-yourself birdfeeders and (gluten free) suet

Today is a snowy day in northern Arizona. With seven or so inches and blowing white out conditions, there isn't much to do today except play with my blogs and watch the birds feast on these neat, do-it-yourself feeders.

From the minute this feed went outside to our local feathered friends, it was a frenzied feast of bird-feeding!
You will be AMAZED at your native birds' response to this suet, compared to store bought!

(Feeders and suet adapted from “Birds & Blooms” magazine.)

2-3 pounds suet (ask your butcher or local meat processor)
3 cups each (or more) wild bird seed mix, cornmeal, oatmeal, sunflower seeds*, and peanut butter.
12-16 toilet paper roll and paper towel (halved) inner roll cardboard tubes

Melt the suet and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the remaining ingredients and allow to swell slightly. Consistency should resemble mixing cement.

Pack into toilet paper and paper towel paper tubes that you have collected before hand. Cut the paper towel tubes in HALF. Scrunch tinfoil across the bottoms of the tubes and secure with rubber bands if necessary. (My mixture was so thick that rubber bands were not necessary.)

Store in refrigerator or freezer until ready to use, then tear away the paper covering and pop into the feeders.
Notes: *Or combination of the above
Makes: 12-16 tubes of suet, depending on whether you are using toilet paper or paper towel rolls tubes that have been halved.

You will need:
14 gauge galvanized wire*
Needle nose and wire cutting pliers
Glass spice jar or other 1-2 inch diameter jar**
Duct tape
Spray primer and paint

Cut the wire into a 3-5 foot section for the feeder body and a 12-14 inch piece for the feeder handle. Tape one end of the long wire section to the side of the spice jar or to whatever you are using for your wire wrapping form.

Smoothly wind all the wire around the jar or form. Now remove the coil from the jar or wrapping form and bend one end of the wire into a little curlique. This will keep the bottom of the suet from falling out. Stretch out the coil until it reaches the length that you desire.** (It will look like a slinky by now.)

Take your “handle” segment of the wire and bend it in the middle to create a handle shape. With the pliers, bend over about an inch on both ends to create hooks for attaching to the feeder top. Attach this to the first two coils of the wire slinky-feeder body and crimp the ends securely using both pairs of the pliers.

If painting the feeders, wash the feeders with soap and water and allow to dry. Then prime and paint the feeders and allow to dry.

Fill with home made suet or fresh fruit. Hang out for the birds and watch the flocks appear! SUET IS A COOL WEATHER BIRD FOOD AND MAY MELT ON WARM DAYS!

Notes: *I tested the use of vinyl covered 15 gauge wire, which removed the painting step. It requires a smaller form than the spice jar to bend it on, as the vinyl deters the bending capability of the wire a bit. Personally, I preferred this.

**The length of your completed coil feeder shape will be dictated by the length of the home made suet that you make. (See home made suet recipe using re-purposed toilet paper or paper towel rolls.)

Update: 2/23/11
I would recommend that you do not make your feeder coil or suet length any longer than 4-5 inches. For some reason, the birds eat the suet from the top only and refuse to eat from the SIDES of the coil. So, what happens when the suet is almost gone, is the bird will literally dive down to the bottom of the coil (from the top of the coil) and if the coil is too long, the bird may get harmed in the dive to the bottom and become caged. Yipes!  So make your feeder coils and your suet tubes only 4-5 inches long, no more.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I love the simplicity of these feeders!
    The suet sounds easy to make and I am going to be giving this a try.

    Thank you so much for this post

    If you get a chance, come visit me over at my blog\