It’s pretty cold here at Casa Fulton…cold enough to keep me indoors and occupied with things that can be accomplished in front of the fireplace, or at the stove. We’re expecting snow (a bit of a rarity in our neck of the woods), which—even though it’s not my favorite form of weather—I would actually welcome right now, because it would warm up a bit. Plus, snow is kinder to the garden than dry and 19 degrees.
Snow is NOT kind to the little birds, however, and because they are accustomed to more hospitable treatment here, I do a little extra for them. I don’t have water heaters for the bird-baths, so I fill them regularly when it freezes. I put extra seed out, and bring the hummingbird nectar in at night so it doesn’t turn to a solid chunk of sweet ice. The hummies come before daylight, so I have to get it back outside early. I could see them silhouetted in the branches of the magnolia this morning—waiting for me—and they didn’t fly away when I re-hung it.
I hang suet out too, but when the starlings discover it, I have to bring it in, or else they will drive off all of the smaller birds while gobbling all the suet in minutes! The birds need extra sources of fat for calories and energy, so another thing I put out for them, especially if the starlings have made a surprise raid, are pine cones with fat and seed in them.
These are so simple to make, and they are also a great project to do with your children who are home from school for a ‘snow-day’. They’re a great way to use extra bacon fat—something I always keep on hand (stored in the fridge) for adding an extra layer of flavor to foods that want it.
You can use peanut butter too, but the birds at our house prefer the bacon fat (who doesn’t like bacon?), so I just use that now. It’s less expensive as well.
All you need is a pine cone, some fat, and some bird seed. Oh, and something to hang it with—string, yarn, wire, or the Christmas ornament hanger you pulled out of the carpet last week and threw in the kitchen junk-drawer.
Soften the chilled fat, coat the pine cone in it (your hands will be really soft after, and your dogs and cats will suddenly be very affectionate) and then press the seed in it. Hang it out on a tree branch, and then wait for word to get out in the avian world that dinner is ready!
Stay warm, and thanks so much for coming to see me!