Feed the birds this winter with some nutritious fat cakes – they need a bit of help, as food is scarce and it is a bit chilly! These fat cakes are quick and easy to make and you don’t need special bird food – kitchen scraps are fine.
We used some (slightly past their best before date) oats, raisins and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds), some grated cheese and some peanuts from the pet shop. The RSPB has some information on their website about which household scraps are good for birds.
Yoghurt pots are great for making these fat cakes but any kind of plastic cup will do. We made a hole in the bottom of each pot using a sharp pencil and a blob of blu-tac, then threaded the hole with string. Knots on both sides of the hole secured the string, and I tied some extra knots along the length inside the pot so the fat cakes wouldn’t slide straight off when they were hanging up.
The children chose what they wanted to put in their bowls and had to work out if they needed to leave some of each item for the other one, or whether they could use up what was there. This was great for developing language and negotiating skills! I put a block of lard in a pan over a low heat to melt and the children mixed all their dry ingredients together.
Once the lard was melted and had cooled a little I poured some into each of their bowls for them to mix into the dry ingredients. You need just enough lard to thoroughly coat everything. The children piled their mixtures into the pots and we put them in a cold place to set. I wouldn’t suggest putting them in the fridge unwrapped as the lard is pretty smelly – we put them in the garage. If you have a lot of fat cakes you could freeze some to keep the birds supplied for a few weeks!
We hung our fat cakes from the fence posts in the garden. We don’t have any trees yet but if you do that would be an ideal spot.
I would love to know how you get on with these fat cakes. Unfortunately we haven’t had a single solitary bird visit ours, despite our next door neighbour’s bird feeder being regularly alive with blue tits, goldfinches and great tits ( to name but a few – they’ve even been visited by a sparrow hawk!) I think I’ve worked out why though – she may be ageing, but she’s still pretty quick and those birds aren’t silly!