How to make fat balls for your garden birds

Most of us have kitchen staples that are also loved by birds - find out how to use yours up and how to make fat balls for your garden birds


1. Use up kitchen staples

Most of us have kitchen staples that are also loved by birds. Have a look in your cupboards or at the leftovers in your fridge and you’d be surprised at how much will appeal to your garden’s feathered visitors.

Dry porridge oats, dried fruit, apples and pears (the more bruised they are the better), cheese, peanuts, cooked rice, cake, bacon rinds, cooked rice, dried or fresh fruits and chopped up cooked pasta will all go down a storm. If you’re baking potatoes, put an extra one on for the birds and then just break in half and put on the bird table. Large chunks of bread are best avoided, but fine breadcrumbs are perfect. If you make your own pastry, freeze any leftovers, then grate – this is a favourite delicacy of robins and wrens. Avoid anything salted. 

2. Serve in small portions

Do avoid putting out large amounts of food at once though, as it could go rotten or even attract rats. Keep an eye on your table and you’ll get to know how much the birds can manage to consume. 

3. Make your own fat balls

Birds love fat cakes, and whilst you can buy them ready made they’re quick and easy – and fun! – too cook up at home. Here’s how to make a treat for your visiting birds that will be especially welcome in winter. 

Step One: The best ratio for this recipe is one part fat to two parts dry mixture. Suet and lard are the best fats to use as they set easily. When it comes to dry ingredients, use up any scraps you like from the list above, and add birdseed if you like. 

Step Two: Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Step Three: Add the fat and mix well. 

Step Four: Pop your mixture into a small container, such as a yoghurt pot or a coconut shell, or alternatively pack into balls with your hands and wrap in clingfilm. Add string to the mixture or the container if you’d like to hang yours up.

Step Five: Pop in the fridge to set overnight, then hang from a tree or place on your bird table and enjoy watching wild birds feast on your handiwork.