How to make fat cakes for birds

Making food for birds

Fat cakes are a great way to keep your feathered friends happy and full over the winter months. Encourage them to make a stop at your home when you hang this tasty source of energy straight from a tree. It's also a great way to create a wildlife-friendly garden.

These fat cakes are best used in the winter or early spring, as they’ll melt in warmer weather. You can make a batch of fat cakes, and keep them in the freezer until needed. They are a great way to use up some kitchen scraps such as cheese and dry porridge oats, however please don't use any soft fats like maragine or leftover fats from baking trays as these can stick to the birds feathers. 

Croome robin in winter

What you will need

• Hard fats like lard or suet, at room temperature
• Handful of bird seed
• Handful of unsalted peanuts
• Grated cheese or raisins
• Dry leftovers like oats or bread
• Old and clean recyclable yoghurt pots or coconut shells for a plastic-free alternative
• String
• Small stick, roughly 7-12cm long

This will make one to four fat cakes depending on size.

Method

  1. Use one part fat to two parts dry mixture.

  2. Melt the fat slightly if it’s not come to room temperature and is still a little hard.

  3. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

  4. Make a small hole in the bottom of each of your yoghurt pots or coconut shells.

  5. Thread a long piece of string through the hole and tie it around your small stick, pulling it taught so the stick sits snugly against the top of the yoghurt pot or coconut shell. This will act as a perch for the birds.

  6. Scoop the mixture into the yoghurt pot or coconut shell, packing it tightly around the string ‘core’ and filling all the way to the top. Put it in the fridge until it's set hard.

  7. Once it’s fully set, carefully remove the fat cake from it's pot or shell. It should come out easily if the mixture is cold enough, and you can reuse your yoghurt pot or coconut shell to make more fat cakes in the future. If you have to cut away your yoghurt pot to remove it, don't forget to recycle it. 

  8. Tie the string over a tree or shrub branch. Make sure you pick somewhere away from cats. If you find the mixture is a bit crumbly, next time add a little more fat and fewer dry ingredients.