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.

Cakes and bakes
Making food for birds
  • Preparation time 20mins (prep. time)
  • Serves Makes 1-4 fat cakes


  • Lard or suet (room temperature)
  • Bird seed
  • Peanuts
  • Dried fruit
  • Grated cheese
  • Dry leftovers such as oats, bread, cake
  • Cling film
  • String


  1. Use one part fat to two parts dry mixture.
  2. Melt the fat slightly if it’s chilled and hard.
  3. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. Line a yoghurt pot with cling film and make a hole in the bottom.
  5. Thread a length of string through the hole and tie a knot to secure it.
  6. Pack the pot with the mixture and put in the fridge.
  7. When set, cut away the pot, peel away the cling film and hang in a tree.
  8. If it’s crumbly after chilling, increase your fat ratio next time.

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.’