I love feeding the birds but it does get quite expensive at times, and I was hoping to be able to start making my own dry mix with ingredients I could possibly find at the bulk store. Problem is, I have no recipe! So I am calling out for you bird lover's help to find great homemade recipe mixes that I can make myself! Thanks a bunch!
I noticed no one responded yet. Are you asking about using "people food" like cereal and things?
We've not had any success with any dry cereals and such, but have had birds eat the "zick dough" we've made using lard, pb, whole wheat flower, oats, and duck feed. It's what we have on hand for the ducks, but if you can find the chick starter at a feed store, use that, just make sure it is NOT medicated. The medication I believe is antibiotics.
The reason for the chick starter is the person who created the recipe learned that without it the bluebirds were developing gout. It's all explained on her web site: http://juliezickefoose.blogspot.com/2010/03/zick-dough-improved.html
She suggests to not use it in the breeding months.
Some have had some success with cereals, but I think mostly the less desirable birds went after it, like Starlings, House sparrows, grackles. The other birds want seed. And you can mix any amount together, different birds prefer different seed, so based on what you use you can get a different variety of birds.
Oh, though not a dry mix depending on what birds you have, some will eat fruit. We put cut oranges out for Orioles in the late spring. Now we have Robins come into our feeding area by tossing on the ground dried cranberries. I was not sure they'd come, so just bought a small bag that cost way too much, but now we know they like them, we'll go to the bulk store for more.
Hopefully others will post on here and share their experiences.
Thanks Chillybean for the reply! Love the idea of that recipe, although I will have to wait till fall to make it since we are getting into the warmer months. I was reading the article from the link you posted, loved it. The only thing, it got me wondering, what about the store bought feed and the suets? Are they all made of the bad stuff and lacking important nutrients or? Is there a specific company that is committed to making quality feed? Hope to get more answers, it got me concerned about what I am feeding the birds and how I can improve this situation and if I am to make my own feed what I should and shouldn't have in it!
I would not say all store bought feed and suet are bad. For the most part, I've switched to single seeds rather than mixes. The last time I bought a mix, it smelled off. Not spoiled, but I looked at the ingredients and there was a whole lot of things that didn't sound very natural.
If you have not heard about it, Morning Song birdseed, produced by Scott's, for some years put pesticide on the seed itself. A pesticide known to be harmful to birds. No, the bad stuff is no longer on the market, but I am not sure I could trust the company in the future.
One company that I would purchase from again is Wild Birds Unlimited. The individual stores are run by people who know and love birds. I found a link to one in Canada and if they are as helpful as the one we visit, I am sure they will be a big help to you. http://ottawa.wbu.com/
Because of the distance to our Wild Birds Unlimited, we do not buy seed exclusively from them and they are pricey, but they are very knowledgeable about the needs of the birds in this part of the country. We want to support them when we can.
Are you in an area that you can grow sunflowers? The big ones? The birds go crazy for those. Even taking some of the black sunflower seeds from a bag of bird seed should work. We have ground squirrels who will pack their cheeks with bird seed, bury it in the ground and if in a sunny spot, the sunflowers come up. Even before the seed is fully ripened, birds will eat off the heads.
The reason I mention this, is we've been trying to eat more organics and wish I could do the same for the birds, but planting sunflowers is a step in that direction. Safflower doesn't seem to do well in our climate, as the ground squirrels have buried seed and we watched how it did, but it never got to the flower stage.
Yes we have grown sunflowers here in the past. I will certainly try that this summer. I've also recently bought a book about feeding birds in the maritimes, which is where I live. It's in French so may take a little longer to read but I will post what I can find in it.
My standby homemade mixture is largely black oil sunflower seeds, with some safflower, cracked corn, peanuts, and chopped raisins mixed in. This past spring I became completely overrun by a few bird species (starlings, grackles, collared doves) which forced me to modify feed and feeders. I went to straight B O sunflower in one feeder, and shelled peanuts in another. The sunflower feeder has a small tray at the bottom for perching, the peanut feeder has no tray, it is strictly snatch and move on. I also provide homemade suet for my bluebirds and other small birds. I use a caged mealworm feeder that has a glass tray in the center, and I put suet in the tray. I would love to provide suet for the big birds also, but their consumption is overwhelming.
Sorry it has taken so long to reply. I make Malinda's mix from the Sialis website.
Melt over low-med heat 1 cup lard & 1 cup crunchy peanut butter.
Turn off heat and add 1 cup each sugar and cornmeal. Mix well.
Stir in 3 cups old fashioned oatmeal (not quick).
Spread in 11x7 dish and refrigerate.
After the suet has hardened, you can cut it into blocks that will fit your feeder. I line my baking dish with foil so I won't have to wash it, and use the foil to wrap my suet cakes when they are done. The variety of birds that like this suet is pretty amazing. I had a summer tanager that stayed for the winter last year - he was a daily visitor to the suet feeder!