I found a similar recipe for bark butter online years ago. Our local bird shop, Wild Birds Unlimited, sells several versions of it, and they call it “bird crack,” since the birdies snarf it up as soon as it’s put out. I have since made some substantial changes to it to suit our birds. Some websites call for it to be smeared into the tree bark, but I found that to be rather cumbersome.
Here’s the recipe. See my notes below.
Bark Butter Recipe
4 oz. lard
1 cups peanut butter
2 cups cornmeal
1 cups rolled oats
1 cups unsalted sunflower seeds or mixed bird seed (without shells)
Put lard, peanut butter and cornmeal in a food processor and mix thoroughly. Add oats and blend some more. Add bird seed and process until well mixed. Put in an airtight container and store at room temperature. With a dinner knife, spread it on tree bark or log drilled with large holes.
Note: Yes, do use the lard because it makes the mixture stick together more than just peanut butter will. Don’t use too much lard or it will be greasy.
Kathy’s notes: You can also use nuts you happen to have, like some leftover almonds I found in the back of the cabinet. I don’t use salted nuts.
Make a log feeder for bark butter
Our good friends at Casa Cuma Bed & Breakfast in Santa Fe gave me a lovely piñion log and I made a bark butter log feeder from it. I drilled 5/8″ holes slanted down so the bark butter doesn’t fall out, about 3/4 inch deep. I put in an eye screw at the top for hanging with a strong piece of rope and filled the holes with bark butter. Voila! The finches and woodpeckers love it, but the pigeons can’t hang onto it.
Make your own bird seed cakes
I’ve tried several times to put suet cakes in my yard, but my birds just don’t seem to like them. I developed my own recipe for seed cakes that they devour fairly quickly. I make them the same size as the suet cakes for those wire basket feeders by using small individual quiche dishes.
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup cornmeal
5 cups bird seed (no shells)
8 4” quiche dishes, sprayed with oil
This cools and hardens quickly, so make sure everything is set up before mixing the sugar syrup and seed mixture.
In a Dutch oven, mix sugar and corn syrup and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly; add peanut butter and mix in until it melts. Immediately add the cornmeal and bird seed and quickly mix thoroughly (wear Latex gloves and mix with your hands). Turn heat to very low just to keep it from hardening too quickly. Press evenly into quiche dishes. Allow to cool and harden for 3-4 hours. Remove from dishes and store in a ziplock bag or airtight container in the freezer.