Homemade Bird Food Recipes: Suet, Seeds, and More | The Old Farmer's Almanac

DIY Homemade Bird Food Recipes

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two Tufted Titmouse (baeolophus bicolor)on a suet pine cone. DIY bird feeder
Tufted Titmouse (baeolophus bicolor)on a suet pine cone.
Photo Credit
Steve Byland

Make Your Own Bird Food: Suet & Seed Mixes

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Do you love bird watching? Our homemade bird food recipes can be made any time of the year, especially in the colder months when natural resources are scarce. These popular bird feed recipes appeal to songbirds, backyard birds, and more. Also, see how to make a simple DIY pine cone feeder!

Watching and studying our feathered friends is a great joy for many of us. In the winter, experts maintain that the best way to birdwatch is in a comfortable chair by the window (and we would agree). Keeping a feeder stocked with bird food can attract birds that stay with you until spring. 

Is it Good to Feed the Birds in Winter?

Rest assured that it’s fine to feed birds during the cold winter months. Supplemental food helps birds during especially tough winters—and this will not affect bird migration. Several factors trigger the urge for birds to migrate, but the most significant is day length. When the days get shorter, certain birds move on, regardless of whether there are still filled feeders available to them. 

During the rest of the year, it’s best to take feeders inside, as there will be plenty of other natural resources for the birds. Bird feeders can be very attractive to foraging mammals, such as skunks, rats, and bears, who are usually unwelcome visitors! 

When Should I Put Out Bird Feeders?

It varies by region, but typically, it’s not recommended to put out bird feeders until at least December. This ensures that hungry hibernators such as bears are already bedded down for the winter and that the birds have something to snack on when foraging becomes difficult.

For homemade suet, which can go rancid if exposed to too-warm temperatures, it’s best to wait until temperatures are consistently in the 40s (Fahrenheit) or below. 

DIY Pine Cone Feeder
A pinecone birdfeeder is a great craft project!

Simple DIY Pine Cone Feeder

If you have kids, making a pine cone feeder can be fun! You should need four items: pine cones, string, peanut butter, and birdseed!

  • Find some pinecones. (Ponderosa are nice because of their larger size, but most types will do.)
  • Wrap the string in a tight loop around the top of the pine cone, leaving enough to tie it to a tree or pole. 
  • Coat the outside of the pinecone with peanut butter, and then roll it in birdseed! Using smaller seeds will ensure that seeds stick well, but the mixed seed or black-oil sunflower seed will work as long as you press the seed in well.
  • Hang your feeder on a tree branch or pole and watch the birds enjoy their winter feast!

Homemade Bird Food Recipes

Most people put out a birdseed mix, which birds do appreciate. However, if you really want to impress your avian friends, here are a few DIY bird food recipes we recommend:

  • Suet 
    A simple suet recipe that is beloved by woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and many other backyard birds.
  • Jack Dudley’s Woodpecker Pudding
    A suet–peanut butter concoction that will drive all the wild birds, well, wild!
  • Junco Cornbread
    This simple baked cornbread is quite literally for the birds—and boy, do they enjoy it!
  • Homemade Hummingbird Food
    Come spring, don’t forget the hummers! This simple recipe for hummingbird nectar consists of only sugar and water.

Bird-Feeding Advice

What’s most important is that you keep birds safe by keeping your bird feeders clean. Scrub out feeders with a 10 percent non-chlorinated bleach solution at least a few times a year and certainly between seasons. Remove suet in hot weather because it will spoil quickly.

See our Wild Bird Food chart for more information on what kinds of foods different types of birds eat. Also, choose a bird feeder that fits the bird species you wish to attract!

Here’s some advice for growing plants with seeds to feed the birds and plants that attract hummingbirds.

Do you feed the birds in your backyard? Who’s your favorite winged visitor? Tell us about them in the comments below!

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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