Bluebirds In My House, by Arnette Heidcamp © 1997, was a fun little book that I’m glad I stumbled across. The first half is strictly a naturalist treatise about bluebirds, while the second half is her own personal experience raising two orphaned bluebird fledglings she found abandoned in the nest after the death of their mother. There are a lot of nice pictures of her little bird buddies, and the blend of autobiography and science was very entertaining.
In the appendix she gives a recipe to fill suet holders. These can be use to feed not just bluebirds, but any bird that typically eats from those types of feeders, including woodpeckers, chickadees, blue jays, and many others. Because there aren’t any animal products used in this recipe, it has the unintended benefit of being something vegans and vegetarians can offer in good conscience:
As mentioned earlier, just about all birds love this concoction, taking it for themselves and feeding it to their young. It makes an excellent winter supplement, giving proteins and fats. It’s easy to prepare and the ingredients are readily available.
- 3-pound can of vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
- 2 cups peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
- 5 pounds white flour
- 2 24-ounce containers cornmeal
Melt the shortening in a large pot until it is liquid, taking care not to allow it to burn.
Add the peanut butter and allow to melt thoroughly, stirring until blended. Add the flour and stir until blended, then add the cornmeal and stir.
Pack into plastic containers about the size of a suet holder and freeze, or stuff into milk cartons and refrigerate to be later cut into slices. Or refrigerate the mixture in large containers and scrape out by the spoonful for placement on a picnic bench, table, or platform feeder. How long the mixture lasts depends upon the number of birds being fed.
NOTE: Other goodies such as raisins, currants, or sunflower or peanut hearts may be added to the mixture.