Most birds love fat cakes especially in winter and a couple of these hung up can give the birds a ready source of high energy food just when they need it. They can be the ONLY source of local food if the ground is covered by a layer of snow or ice. You can buy them from shops but it is just as easy (and cheaper) to make your own and include the foods your local birds like. The key to a successful fat cake is finding a source of hard fat. Suet or lard tend to be much too soft and your fat cake will disintegrate on the first mildly warm day, dropping to the floor in a greasy mess! Many stores have blocks of beef dripping or similar products that are just fine, though you need to experiment to find the ones that set the hardest.
IMPORTANT - Always use good quality ingredients with NO MOULD
HOW TO MAKE THEM
You need the following:
What to do:
If your fat cakes are being attacked by squirrels - get mean! When you make them, add some Capsicum (red, green or yellow sweet pepper) seeds or try some Chilli seeds. The birds don't seem to mind at all but squirrels hate them and a good mouthful of chilli seed will give you a dancing squirrel that will stay well away from your fat cake!!
We always put some of these out between Autumn and Spring and find it easier and quicker to make a few quite large cakes rather than many small ones. All the birds have a different technique on how to feed from fat cakes that is interesting to watch. Always the first are starlings that land above the cake and slide down the string. They start hacking of the top layers. Tits tend to work from below. Blackbirds stand underneath, then take off at great speed and dive into the cake beak first hoping to break a lump off. Robins strangely tend to use lots of energy hovering at the side whilst doing a poor impersonation of a humming bird! Greenfinches copy starlings and slide down the string whilst being very aggressive with other birds. Sparrows, almost always the last to explore this new delight, just land on top. Chaffinch and other more timid birds, stand underneath waiting for bits to fall from above.
Hope this inspires you to start planning for Autumn!
We never recycle the used strings or bearers - they get very grubby.
Regards from the staff at DTSystems and have fun making some cakes - BUT - DO IT SAFELY!
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