Feeding the Birds

Although winter is seen as the most critical time for feeding birds, they do benefit from being fed all year round. In an ideal world your local environment would contain lots of natural bird food in the form of insects and seed heads, but birds can experience episodes of food shortage at any time of year, and often appreciate any supplementary food that is put out for them.


Our home-made Willow bird feeder and home-made Fat Cakes are a great way to feed the birds in the trees.

Due to having a highly predatory cat, we don't have a bird table, as it would be unfair of us to lure birds to an area he could access. He doesn't, however, climb trees (presumably due to being rescued from one at just a couple of weeks old, prior to us adopting him from the Blue Cross).

When the kids asked to feed the birds as one of their #30DaysWild activities, I started to think about ways we could do that without increasing the risk of our cat catching them, and this is what we came up with.


Our home-made Willow bird feeder and home-made Fat Cakes are a great way to feed the birds in the trees.

We started by making fat balls. You can make these from lard or suet and a mix of seeds that are suitable for wild birds.


Our home-made Willow bird feeder and home-made Fat Cakes are a great way to feed the birds in the trees.

We simply mixed our seed into softened lard, adding a little at a time until our balls held together solidly when pressed tightly, and then popped them in the fridge to firm up. The kids loved mixing up the balls; it's great, tactile, messy play!


Our home-made Willow bird feeder and home-made Fat Cakes are a great way to feed the birds in the trees.


If you made a large batch of these you could freeze some until they were needed.

In very warm weather, the fats can become rancid, so please bear that in mind during the summer.


Our home-made Willow bird feeder and home-made Fat Cakes are a great way to feed the birds in the trees.

And for our feeder we used our rustic willow ball - it'll be perfect for the birds to hold on to, is totally bio-degradable, and can be hung up high in a tree well away from our prowling cat and other predators.


Our home-made Willow bird feeder and home-made Fat Cakes are a great way to feed the birds in the trees.

Another great way to feed garden birds if you don't have a conventional feeder, and want to feed the birds in the trees, is to fill the bark holes in tree trunks with softened suet or lard containing insects, meal worms and peanut granules. This will be appreciated by birds such as tree-creepers and woodpeckers.


Our home-made Willow bird feeder and home-made Fat Cakes are a great way to feed the birds in the trees.

We love our rustic home made bird feeder, and think it looks fab hung high up in our tree. We'd love to know if you feed the birds in your garden, and would be especially interested in hearing how you go about doing so if you have a cat.


Our home-made Willow bird feeder and home-made Fat Cakes are a great way to feed the birds in the trees.

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  • Reply Nancy Zier

    My husband made the perfect feeder out of a 4×4 post. The top has a huge metal/glass 4compartment feeder. On each side of the post he mounted metal flower hooks/rods. On each hook we have different feeders. A Texas shaped sunflower feeder, a suet feeder, and 2 open feeders for fruit, nuts, and peanut butter balls for the Cardinals and Woodpeckers! He put a huge metal baffle on the post just below the feeders. No squirrels and no cats can get past that baffle!

    November 2, 2017 at 10:49 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Wow that sounds fab Nancy – off to show my hubby your comment and pester him!

      January 15, 2018 at 10:43 pm
  • Reply Daphne

    Have you ever made no melt suet?

    May 22, 2017 at 9:59 pm
  • Reply Gina Caro @ Gypsy Soul

    Hi Sarah, This is great! My daughter would love to make these. We made some thrifty bird feeders a few years ago out of leftover milk cartons but I much prefer this as there’s no plastic involved.
    Definitely going to try this soon.

    December 13, 2016 at 12:14 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks Gina, using just natural materials is great as you can just put them up and forget about them without having to worry about polluting the environment – Hope you all have a lovely Christmas x

      December 14, 2016 at 2:51 pm
  • Reply Stephanie Robinson

    The fat ball making looks gorgeously messy! #goinggreen

    December 2, 2016 at 10:58 pm
  • Reply luce

    This is an activity we will be adding to our list 🙂 thanks for sharing! #GoingGreenLinky

    December 2, 2016 at 3:10 pm
  • Reply Rosie (@greenrosielife)

    I have always struggled to feed the birds here for 2 reasons – we have a large dog who was tall enough to get food off the bird table we tried (and finally pushed the table over) and we have 4 cats who definitely do climb trees. Last year I tied some fat balls in the back hedge and the birds ignored them until a storm knocked them to the ground and then the swooped down and devoured the lot! We do accidentally feed them though, as they pinch our hen/duck food. Water is important too, especially in freezing or very hot weather and I often see birds at our animal water bowls.

    Thank you so much for adding this bird feeding post to the first #GoingGreenLinky and I hope you’ll join up again in January.
    Rosie (@greenrosielife) recently posted…Weekly Green Tips #34 – 7 Foods in season at ChristmasMy Profile

    December 2, 2016 at 1:44 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks for having us on your #GoingGreenLinky Rosie. You are right water is so important too, and can be far more difficult for birds to access than we might realise 🙂

      December 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm
  • Reply Cheryl | TimeToCraft

    I love your willow feeder. Great idea. We make suet balls too, but are lucky to only have one old cat in the neighbourhood. We’ve been putting out our homegrown sunflower heads which the birds are loving.

    December 1, 2016 at 11:25 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Lucky birds, you must have been particularly popular with the birds over this cold snap 🙂

      December 2, 2016 at 8:33 am
  • Reply Becky Brown

    This is a great idea. We feed the birds, though not intentionally! We have chickens and the birds sit in the trees above their run and swoop down to steal their food when they’re not looking! It’s such a simple thing for kids to do as well. #goinggreen

    December 1, 2016 at 5:07 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks Becky, it is a great activity for kids – they loved making the fat balls 🙂

      December 2, 2016 at 8:31 am
  • Reply Kat

    Oh wow what an amazing idea! I never knew making these would be so simple.

    September 26, 2016 at 8:12 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      They really are simple Kat, and making them is really fun messy play for kids too – mine loved it!

      September 30, 2016 at 9:57 am
  • Reply Angela / Only Crumbs Remain

    What a great post Sarah. We too love feeding the birds and really enjoy watching them come to the feeders to take their favourite nibble (fascinating how different birds prefer different foods). We too have a cat, though he is a house cat (many many reasons) he has semi long fur and when we groom him we save his fur and pop it out into a peanut feeder in early spring for the birds to take when they’re nest building. It’s seriously cute watching the little blue tits fly off with a huge pile of cat fur to keep their babies warm 🙂
    Angela / Only Crumbs Remain recently posted…Homemade Orange CurdMy Profile

    June 28, 2016 at 3:25 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Thanks Angela, I love the image of all your bird nests lined with cat fur. I think we’ll definitely put out nesting material in one of these balls next spring 🙂

      June 30, 2016 at 1:35 pm
  • Reply TiredHappyMummy

    This is such a good idea, I’m adding it to our to do list!

    June 9, 2016 at 6:12 am
  • Reply Celeste

    This is such a nice thing to do with children. It teaches them so much about the world around them.

    June 8, 2016 at 4:42 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      I think its really important to have an understanding of the natural world, Celeste. They were fun to make 🙂

      June 9, 2016 at 6:26 pm
  • Reply Mary

    I love the willow ball! Our cat doesn’t really climb trees either but I’ll have to put it out on a small limb just to make sure 🙂
    Mary recently posted…Finding That Which is RealMy Profile

    June 8, 2016 at 7:40 am
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      We do love our cat, but hes a menace to the local wildlife – especially at this time of year 🙁

      June 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm
  • Reply Linda at Mixed Kreations

    What a great idea! I love the willow balls. Great way to feed the birds. You could even use them to put string, straw, and stuff for nest building.
    Linda at Mixed Kreations recently posted…Makeup Brush Holder – Repurposed JarMy Profile

    June 7, 2016 at 11:48 pm
    • Reply Sarah - Craft Invaders

      Love the idea of putting nesting materials in them, Linda. – will definitely remember that for next spring 🙂

      June 9, 2016 at 6:18 pm
  • Reply Katrin

    This is not only so so pretty but such a great craft and activity for the kids! I will pin this for the summer 😉 I remember when I was a kid, that we only ever used to put out bird seeds during the winter when there was frost, but I guess that has changed throughout the years! The birds in my yard actually benefit from our bunnies food as well 😉 but I’d love to make one of these!

    June 7, 2016 at 7:16 pm
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