Make your own fat block for the birds

Starling on bird feeder (c) Ben Hall/2020VISION

Clearing out your fridge after Christmas? Some leftovers can be used to feed the birds, but be careful what you put out. Whilst there might be some real treats in there, some foods are unsuitable.

Avoid any salty food -salted nuts, processed meats etc. Leftover roast potatoes will be snapped up, but not chips. Pastry is good, so left-over mince pies can be broken up for the bird table, and shredded marzipan and crumbled cake will be gratefully received.

Please don’t put out any fat left in the roasting tin after cooking the Christmas turkey or Boxing Day beef – cooled solidified fat, combined with meat juices, can easily smear onto a bird’s feathers and interfere with their waterproofing and insulation. One of the best ways to use mixed leftovers is to make bird cake.

Blue Tit Gillian Day

Gillian Day

You will need:

Dripping or suet

Any suitable leftover foods such as mince pies, cake, brown bread, stuffing, stale biscuits, dried fruit, mild cheese scraps, sausagemeat, cranberries, unsalted nuts, roast or baked potatoes – whatever you have.

A suitable mould for the shape and size of fat block you want to make. It should be rigid and heat proof. I use square freezer boxes, so that the finished blocks fit in a square fat block feeder.

Method

Melt the dripping or suet over a low heat.
Grind up the leftovers – please remember not to include salty things like salted nuts, crisps or salted crackers – in a food processor. Pour the ground up food into your chosen mould, then carefully pour the molten dripping in until the food is covered.
Stir it with a fork, making sure you get right into the corners, so the ground up food is completely mixed into the fat.
Allow to cool and harden.
To remove the block from its mould, stand it in hot water. It can be hung up in a suitable feeder or placed on the bird table.