Make a fat cake for birds
Winter and early spring are a great time to see the birds in the bare branches of garden trees. One way to encourage them to return is to hang a tasty fat cake from a tree in sight line of your kitchen window. You can make a batch with kitchen scraps such as cheese and dry porridge oats and keep them in the freezer until needed.
- Lard or suet (room temperature)
- Handful of bird seed
- Handful of peanuts (unsalted)
- Grated cheese or raisins
- Dry leftovers (oats, bread or cake)
- Old clean yoghurt pots and string
Use one part fat to two parts dry mixture.
Melt the fat slightly if it’s chilled and hard.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Make a small hole in the bottom of each of your yoghurt pots.
Thread a length of string through the hole and tie a knot to secure it.
Pack each pot tightly with the mixture. Put it in the fridge until it’s set hard.
Once it’s fully set, carefully cut away the yoghurt pot and recycle it. It should crack off OK if the mixture is cold enough.
Tie the string over a tree or shrub branch. Make sure you pick somewhere away from cats! If you find it’s a bit crumbly, next time add a little more fat and a little less dry mixture.
Please note that fat cakes are best used in the winter or early spring, as they’ll melt in warmer weather, which isn’t good for our feathery friends.
Fat cakes are a good help to birds in the lean months, but even better is to create a wildlife-friendly garden.
National Trust wildlife adviser Jo Hodgkins says ‘Have plants in your garden that carry fruit, nuts, seeds and berries as they’re good sources of food for birds and mammals. Leave seed heads on over winter so birds can eat them and insects can over-winter in hollow stems. Having wild areas and log piles which harbour insects will also help hedgehogs and other small mammals over winter.’