Easy DIY Fat Balls for Birds

 reading time: 2 min

In winter, many wild birds migrate to southern climes, but equally as many birds stay behind. For those staying behind it can be quite difficult to find sufficient food when the ground is covered with snow and ice. You can give them a little help by making some nutritious, high-energy treats for them to enjoy during this time. 
Now it is finally ❄️ snowing ❄️ where I live, and I have all the ingredients together to make my own DIY food dumplings for birds for my balcony! If you want to make this the easy way, just use a store-bought birdseed mix. However, I was determined to make my own this time. Recipe below!

You will need:
  • string
  • 1 part (e. g. 150 g) coconut oil
  • 2 parts (e. g. 300 g) birdseed – either a store-bought mix, or make your own (see recipe below) 
  • optional: 1 mesh bag (from onions, garlic, potatoes, oranges or lemons)

My DIY customized birdseed blend:

1 cup sunflower seeds, both hulled and unhulled
1/2 cup uncooked mixed grains (oats, millet, wheat, corn – though I have since noticed that our feathered visitors seem to leave the corn untouched for the most part, so next time I'll probably omit it)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (e. g. walnuts or hazelnuts or peanuts)
1 tbsp peanut butter, unsalted and unsweetened!!
6 tsp raisins, currants and/or sultanas
optional: seeds from grass, dandelion or dock; bread crumbs

This birdseed blend is suitable for: Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Robin, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Nuthatch, Blackbird, Jay, Song Thrush, Starling, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redstart.
It's best to research the local birds in your area, and adjust your birdseed mix accordingly. Since we mostly have various tits, sparrows, robins, blackbirds and the occasional jays in our garden, this mixture works great for me. And of course, our squirrels will be delighted about this snack as well ☺️

How to make your own Fat Balls for birds:  
Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over a low heat, or in a microwave. Add peanut butter and birdseed, and stir well to combine. Switch off the heat, and allow the mixture to cool down slightly, until you can get it there with your bare hands.
Using your hands, knead the mixture until it's all well incorporated. You are looking for an even coating of fat over the seeds. Form the fatty mixture into chunky balls about the size of an apple or a potato dumpling. 
Option 1: Take some string, wrap one end around a small piece of wood (a piece of a wooden popsicle stick also works), and shape the fat ball around that, ensuring the piece of wood is completely surrounded by the fatty mixture. The remaining string will be used later to hang the balls outside.
Place the fat balls on a plate and set aside to cool and harden. To speed up this process, put them in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
Option 2: Once your fat balls have completely hardened, use an old mash bag from onions or oranges to put in your fat balls.
You can also make balls without string or mash bag, and use them to fill your fat ball feeder, if you have one.
Place the fat balls in a quiet and sheltered area, at least three meters away from the tree trunk and the ground to prevent any cats from also getting a snack here!
IMPORTANT: You can use your bird feeder during the months of November until late February, or late March. Do NOT continue to feed the birds in the spring because they will pass on the grainy birdseed to their young, which can't digest the heavy food and might even die from it! So no bird feeding after March!!
- Get creative and try making different shapes and sizes. For example, you could use cookie cutters to shape your fat balls, or cover a pine cone with the fat and birdseed mixture. You could even use a Bundt cake pan to form your fat ball mixture into a festive wreath!
- You can make extra fat ball feeders and store them in a plastic bag in the freezer until needed.

a hungry blue tit sneaking up on its "prey" :)