Homemade Fat Balls
It seems that since failing to conduct my imminently fruitless Big Garden Birdwatch, the garden has become full of birds. The mild winter at the close of 2011 and the start of 2012 meant that many birds were able to remain foraging in their natural habitats due to plentiful foods, instead of having to move into city gardens for a bit of extra grub. However, with thick snow falling shortly after the RSPB’s national survey took place, I was soon inundated with wildlife.
Redwings, mistle thrush, robins, blackbirds, blue tits and hefty, lumbering wood pigeons arrived. On two occasions I saw the tiniest of wrens, whist in the past few weeks a dunnock (hedge sparrow) has sat in the upper most branches of the crab apple tree singing.
It’s important to continue feeding birds throughout the winter, and indeed throughout the entire year if you can. As to my earlier post, consistency is key, and you need to provide birds with a safe place to eat that they can rely on. But, you don’t have to always visit the supermarket to buy your bird food, and you can use recycling waste products and make fat balls at home. Fat is one of the worst waste products from cooking, and you either splodge it into the garbage or run it down the sink with an enormous amount of washing up liquid to make sure that it doesn’t block the plumbing. Saving it is simple, and I simply pour the fat into an old tuna can whilst it’s hot and save it for a rainy day.
All you need for your fat ball is old fat, seed and a means to hang it
The process of making fat balls is easy, and all you need is the regular bird seed that you feed your feathery friends, some fat to soak it in and a means of creating and hanging the ball itself. Again, I use an old tuna can which I put the seed in and then pour the melted fat over. It’s extremely hot, so take care as you place the container in the fridge or freezer so as to set the entire mixture together. Once left overnight, you can simply run a knife around the edges of the tin and bang the mixture on a plate as you would do with a cake to get the fat ball to drop out. Due to my bird feeder, I have a nifty little rod to spear the fat ball with and hold it in place, but you can just as easily place several pieces of string in the seed with the ends sticking out before pouring the fat over it. These can then be used to tie the fat ball in place, whether hanging from a shrub or your bird table.
Birds will go mad for your homemade fat ball
This is a great way to reuse old fat and ensure that products actually go to some good use rather than being washed down the drain or put into rubbish bags to sit and rot in a dump for all eternity. You may find, that in warmer temperatures, fat balls crumble slightly. If this is the case you can simply place the fatty seed on the bird table or let it fall to the ground below where it’ll be eaten by ground feeding birds such as blackbirds and thrushes. It’s a very easy method to create your own homemade fat balls, the birds will love it, and you’ll also be doing a little bit of recycling whilst you’re at it.