Saturday, 24 January 2009

MTM - feed the birds

show them you care! ♫♪♪♫

I have been spending big bucks on bird seed, squirrel food, and woodpecker feeder food in Muskoka. I love feeding them, and photographing them to capture their beautiful colours and images. We have to feed the squirrels to keep them off the bird feeder. They get their food in a bucket. (Of course they share it with the chickadeees!)

This is a similar principle, in that in fall, when you plant bulbs, you should plant double in order for the squirrels to get their feed and end up with a reasonable number of flowers in the spring.

Living in the land of white, this daily show brightens my day.

I buy black sunflower seed, cracked corn, peanuts and fill our feeders. The critters rotate around our feeders, and we love to watch their antics. I like feeding them and keeping them off of the tree trunks as they bash their brains out putting holes in.

I bought one package that came with a kit: a wire frame, with an insert of formed seed. The woodpeckers can hang onto the wire cage and eat away at the seed. It saves me the grief of our trees, with lovely lined up holes.

The new feeder I bought, for the woodpeckers, is a wire frame, with an insert. They run about $9 per refill package.

I examined the refill packages list of contents and found that it was formed with gelatin. I knew I had some jello around, cranberry flavour, why not? My first attempt was interesting, since the birds do not eat the hulls, I thought it would be OK. It was a lovely cranberry colours, with the hulls decorating the deck.

I put in a handful of seeds, with a package of jello, reducing the water content by 1/3. That worked, except that I used drinking glasses and it didn't solidify enough. It crumbled. Too much water, too much seed, not enough gelatin!

I sent hubby to the store for plain gelatin. This time is used an empty milk carton. This was great. I inserted a stick, with a piece of rawhide attached. This helped to remove the seed from the box.

Two cups of seed. Two packages of gelatin, and half the water it calls for. The birds like it.

It was a successful endeavour, saves me some money, and keeps me out of trouble!


Travis Erwin said...

I like to watch birds, just wish I was better at identifying them.

debra said...

we've had many birds at our feeders, too. I am having trouble keeping htem filled.

Barrie said...

Wow! You are creative! Making your own seed mixture!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Birds won't come to feed at our house. It's too enclosed from the houses next to us. They get spooked, I think.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hi J. Jilks,

Its good that you are not using jello with sugar, because mold can grow quickly (even in our winter) and attack the lungs of the birds.


Mary said...

I'll have to try your seed mixture. There is something sold here called Bark Butter that I'd like to try and duplicate as well. I'm going to wait and see if they recall all peanut butter first!

Great photos along with an interesting post.

Jenn Jilks said...

Thanks for all your comments! You know, Chris, mold has not been a big problem. In our previous freeze/thaw, and pouring rain, the bird seed began to germinate, then became mouldy and clogged the feeder. I had to empty it and dry it all out by the fire.

Currently, with -20 to -30 C. temperatures there isn't a lot of anything growing outdoors! :-) Plus, I didn't add any sugar to the jello, just water.

The mold isn't a problem, anyway, since I am using seeds in shells. This mimics the need for the woodpecker to hack away at it before they get to the seed embryo.

Ontario Wanderer said...

Re your "lined up holes": they are made by sapsuckers that are not here this time of year. They will be back in the spring. They put the holes in the trees to 1, gather up sap to eat and 2, eat the insects that come to the sap. The holes also bring in hummingbirds looking for sap too.

The jello mix sounds good. I may give that a try.

Lauren said...

That is so awesome that you make your own bird seed. How creative. Those little birds are sure lucky to have you! :)

Jenn Jilks said...

Thank you, Mr. Wanderer, you learn something new every day. I have only seen one sap sucker, and none lately. I saw a flicker, but, again, only once. I miss my seasonal friends!

Kristina said...

Oooh, good idea. I really like that woodpecker picture. Here, I don't worry so much about the squirrels eating things, as much as the deer. Unfortunately, I'm not sure planting double will help.