LITTLE ROCK, AR –-(Ammoland.com)- Feeding birds in yards enthralls many thousands of Arkansans every winter.
When they are ready to move up a notch from using bags of mixed seed from discount stores and groceries, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission suggests, there are two effective steps to take.
- Black oil sunflower seed.
- Magic Mix.
Using these, the backyard bird feeder gets many more varieties of visitors. The ratio of wanted versus unwanted species like house sparrows and starlings increases sharply.
Black oil sunflower seed is available from farm supply outlets, garden centers and bird specialty stores. Magic Mix is something you concoct at home.
It’s simple. Like making a stew or chili, there are all sorts of variations to Magic Mix, and no one insists you have to go by a recipe or formula. Magic Mix is a name that came from somewhere years ago, and capitalizing it just seems logical, although it’s not a brand name by any means.
Magic Mix is lard, peanut butter and cornmeal. You can add other things. Exact proportions aren’t needed. Just mix it so it looks and feels right.
In a large mixing bowl, blend in lard and peanut butter, using more lard than peanut butter. A pastry blender works well or you may prefer other kitchen tools you have on hand. Then gradually mix in cornmeal to reach a consistency somewhere in the vicinity of Play-Do or muffin mix. It needs to be fairly stiff and solid but moldable and not crumbly. You’ll use a goodly amount of cornmeal.
It will be greasy. You’re using lard. If the greasiness bothers you, wear latex gloves, but you can wash hands later.
A very rough guide on proportions is two parts lard, one part peanut butter, one part cornmeal. Some Arkansans toss in a handful of flour also, saying this small addition helps the mix achieve the preferred consistency.
To get the Magic Mix to the birds, just put it out anywhere above the ground. Purchased or homemade suet feeders work well. So does pressing a handful of Magic Mix into the bark of a tree.
Hanging log feeders are heavily used in some yards. These are just sections of a fence post with several large holes drilled and a sturdy screw eye placed in one end. Then it is wired or hung on a bent-out coat hanger form a tree limb.
To make several of these log feeders, buy a cedar fence post from a lumberyard, fence company or a farm supply store. A six-foot post can be cut into six sections, each a foot long.
Secure an inch-and-a-half spade bit in an electric drill or drill press and bore staggered holes about an inch deep around the post. Four holes to a section are about right. Below and slightly to one side of each large hole bore a quarter-inch hole. Insert a three-inch piece of wooden dowel into each of these small holes for perches. Don’t glue the dowels in place because they will rot and break before the cedar deteriorates. Pull out the stub of dowel and replace it with a new one.
Use a good-sized screw eye and put it in the center of the top of your feeder. Screw it all the way down. Then use a wire or coat hanger and hang the feeder after it’s filled with Magic Mix. These cedar feeders will last for years.