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Dave Harnish
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Dave's Repair Service
1911 Heath Hill Rd
New Albany, PA 18833

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Great Homemade Bird "Suet" Cakes

This is pretty off-topic for this website, but after feeding and enjoying birds for as long as I can remember, I can tell you they love this stuff!

We started using this many years ago now, and one of its advantages we've discovered is how well it fares in hot weather. Much better than suet. A block of it won't last long enough to get rancid like suet does, and with commercial blocks now made mostly of seeds glued together with a bit of suet, these are much more attractive to the birds.

I've never seen a "food block" that's attractive to so many species, year-round. It's amazing how many of them really go after this formula - Bluebirds included. My current list of birds that love it includes 20+ local species, and I'm sure I've missed a few. 

Note: If you have bears or raccoons, plan on bringing these indoors overnight as recommended in the recipe. I'm not kidding - Bears love this stuff, too! They've climbed right up onto our deck to get to it.  

(By the way, I'm "cooking challenged", so if I can make it, anyone can! )

Bird blocks, original recipe:

* 1 pound lard
* 16-20 oz. crunchy peanut butter
* 3/4-1 cup raisins
* 3/4-1 cup black oil sunflower or mixed birdseed
* 6 cups cornmeal
* 5 cups all-purpose flour

Melt lard in microwave. Pour into a really large mixing bowl, stir in other ingredients in order above. Pour mix into cake pan, cool and cut into blocks to fit your feeder. Freeze in zip-lock bags. 

Yields 6 blocks roughly 4" square and 1-1/2" thick from a 9x12 cake pan, and these fit perfectly into our suet 'cages'. 

Just be sure to bring your feeders inside overnight if you have bears in the neighborhood, as we do. (They love it too!)

Update 3-23: I've simplified this recipe recently and the birds still love it. No more sunflower seeds, raisins, or crunchy peanut butter. This version's cheaper and faster, and our birds go through 1-2 blocks / day during winter.  

Bird blocks simplified: 

* 1 pound / 1 pint lard
   (Microwave 4 minutes - your time may vary; experiment)
* 20 oz. smooth peanut butter
   (Microwave a Sams 40 oz jar 90 seconds, use half of it)
* 4 cups cornmeal (Sams or Amazon, 25 lb bag)
* 5 cups all-purpose flour (Sams or Amazon, 20 or 25 lb bag)

Mix well in a really large mixing bowl. Spoon mix into clear plastic "clamshell" sandwich boxes, cool and freeze. *Boxes are said to be disposable, but cut in half I get many, many uses 1/2 of one. One of these will cleanly pop out of its plastic mold while it's still frozen.

Yields 7 or 8 blocks about 4" square and 1" thick that fit perfectly into 4x4 suet "cages". I've been making double batches of these every 10 days or so the last two winters. We feed a LOT of birds. 

Again, be sure to bring your feeders inside overnight if you're in bear  country as we are. (They love it too!) Hanging feeders from an overhead electric fence supply wire works great to discourage them. 

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