Setting out seeds in your back yard makes bird-watching easy. But as the weather turns cold, wild birds will be looking for a little fat, in addition to their normal diet of seeds, nuts and fruit, to help them survive the winter. These seed balls are ideal for winter bird-feeding because they include fat in the form of lard and suet. Choose bird seed to attract common winter species in your region. Then make up a few seed balls to hang in your yard, and you'll enjoy bird watching at home all winter long.
Cut a 2-yard length of yarn. Fold the yarn into sixths, so that three closed loop strands are formed at one end.
Knot the yarn strands together at the end, away from the loops. Braid the three yarn loop strands to form a cord about 14 inches long.
Tie the yarn loops securely at the end of the braid. Trim two of the loops, leaving one loop intact.
Cut a 1-yard length of 24-gauge craft wire. Thread the wire through the large knotted end of the braided cord.
Pull half the wire length through the knot, so that the knot is in the middle of the wire. Twist the wire ends together and fold them over so that no sharp edges are exposed.
Crunch the wire into a loose ball about 2 inches in diameter. Keep the cord knot roughly in the center of the wire ball.
Mix 2 cups bird seed, a half-cup lard and a quarter-cup suet together in a mixing bowl.
Form the bird seed ball. Press the bird seed mixture into the wire ball. Add more mixture and form the ball with your hands until it is about 3 inches in diameter.
Chill the bird seed ball in the freezer for 2 hours, or chill outdoors if your climate is cold. Chilling solidifies the seed balls so they're less fragile and easier to hang.
Hang the birdseed ball from a tree branch or hook. Pull the braided cord through the small loop at the end of the cord to make a larger loop for hanging.
Things You'll Need
- 2 cups wild bird seed
- 1/2 cup lard
- 1/4 cup suet (optional)
- Heavy knitting yarn, 2 yards per seed ball
- 24-gauge craft wire, 1 yard per seed ball
Be sure to hang your seed balls where you will be able to easily observe the feeding birds. A shrub near a kitchen window, or a hook under the eaves of the house, are good locations.
Use these seed balls for cool-weather bird feeding only. Seed balls made with fat will melt in very warm climates.
- Images: M.J. Doran