how to make bird blocks

As the year slowly draws to an end, and colder weather sends us indoors during the darkness of Winter, getting outside to get any birding in sometimes has to wait till the weekend. However to satisfy my thirst for bird activity, myself and thousands of others across this country get our bird feeders prepped and ready for our birding fix.

Now my feeders have been up for over a month (I normally don’t feed the birds during the warmer months, except Hummingbirds) and I’ve added 2 new birds to the yard list, and I just love watching as they feed. But sometimes I get bored with feeding the birds the same old stuff. So I start to experiment, and look for different recipes for my little friends. And being someone who is always up for a challenge, I set upon myself the task of finding a good recipe for a bird seed block. So you may ask yourself, why would you go to such trouble in making them when you can find them on-line, or at your local store that may specialize is items such as this?

They can be pretty pricey for starters. One of my favorites web sites where I have gotten plenty of inspiration over the years is Duncraft. And if you visit their expansive site, and locate the page where they display their seed blocks you to will see what I mean. Click “HERE” to take you to the seed block page.

Now don’t take this the wrong way, I love Duncraft, really I do. My next suet feeder I’m buying will come from them, just not their seed blocks. So without further ado I’m going to lead you into my secret laboratory, and share with you a super simple recipe for seed blocks.

Now I use Kroger brand gelatin that comes in this handy box, however the packet size is 1/4 oz. each. So you’ll need 4 of these packets for the recipe.

The mix I used for this recipe has in it some cracked corn, Sunflower seeds, Millet, Milo seed and some other stuff I’m not too sure of.

Dissolve the gelatin in the water over low heat till water becomes clear. This won’t take long.

HINT: I use a old pot that we used for camping that has a non-stick surface. Helps with the clean up. It gets real sticky.

Mix the seed into the gelatin mixture and coat the seeds thoroughly. Then pack the mixture, pressing firmly, into whatever container you wish to use. I coated one of my hands (the one that was packing the seeds into the container) with some cooking oil so the seeds wouldn’t stick to my hand. This stuff is real sticky!

To clean the pot I soaked it in hot tap water for several minutes till the remainder of the gelatin dissolved and seeds loosened up. Then washed it with dish soap afterwards.

I used this 16 oz. plastic bowl that we dispose of at the place where I work.

And since the bowl I used was plastic I was able to squeeze on the sides and bottom of the bowl till it came out.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can double it, and shape it into any configuration you like. And you don’t have to stop at just using seeds. This block that I made for this blog post had some stale raisins in it. They were a little hard for human consumption, however the birds will love it.

Remember that gelatin is one of the main ingredients, and if it does get wet due to rain, that could dissolve the gelatin and the block will become mushy. A covered platform feeder works well, or wait till it gets real cold and the threat of rain is behind us. Whatever you do have fun with this recipe, and try some experimenting. And if you come up with a neat idea that can improve on this, let me know. Remember I’m always up for a challenge.

DIY Bird Seed Block

We discovered how easy it is to make our own bird seed block and save a lot of money in the process as well. Now this is economical when you purchase the two main ingredients in bulk, bird seed and plain gelatin.

Knox unflavored gelatin is available in the grocery stores in a box containing 1/4 oz. envelopes. For the recipe below you would need 6 envelopes but if you bought it on Amazon in a 1 pound jar it is much less per ounce. I have looked at Sams Club and Cosco and they do not carry it in this size. Amazon-Knox Gelatin 1 pound

I did the math, and the average cost of a one-pound seed bell is about $7. My bird seed block will weigh three pounds and cost you about three dollars when you make it. 73 if the gelatin packets are purchased from the supermarket If you buy the can from Amazon, it will only cost $2. 86. These expenses were also predicated on paying about $20 for a 40-pound bag of seed.

You can now use your imagination to the fullest by making seed blocks that will draw in a variety of birds. Replace one or two cups of the seeds with almonds, dried fruit, or orange peel. A cup of melted peanut butter or butcher’s suet can also be added.

Make sure the container you choose can accommodate the six cups of bird seed before using it to form your bird seed block. Even better, pick a tiny box and line it with wax paper, parchment, or a plastic bag. For me, it’s easiest to use one of my storage bowls.

Pour cold water into small metal bowl

gelatineSlowly and evenly sprinkle gelatin over cold water, if needed stir so all is absorbed. This step is called blooming the gelatin.

Place bloomed gelatin over a double boiler and watch for all gelatin to melt. Mixture will now be clear and not grainy. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

bird seedMeasure your 6 c. of bird seed into the container you want to make sure it fits.

You know have all your mise en place. Pour seed into large mixing bowl, lightly spray your container for easy release later.

I like to put gloves on at this point because this step is very sticky. Pour slightly cooled melted gelatin over the bird seed and thoroughly mix to coat all seeds.

Return coated seeds back to lightly sprayed container. DO NOT pack mixture down into the bowl, this will create too solid of a block. It will seem like you have more seed than you started with, this is fine just lightly add it in and flatten as much as possible. Allow to completely set for 3 hours. Your gelatin bowls will easily clean with very hot soapy water.

After 3 hours, turn out from bowl or form and place in your bird house or feeder.

They can be pretty pricey for starters. One of my favorites web sites where I have gotten plenty of inspiration over the years is Duncraft. And if you visit their expansive site, and locate the page where they display their seed blocks you to will see what I mean. Click “HERE” to take you to the seed block page.

Over low heat, dissolve the gelatin in the water until it turns clear. This won’t take long.

I now use the handy boxed Kroger brand gelatin, but the packets are only 1/4 oz in size. each. So you’ll need 4 of these packets for the recipe.

This recipe’s beauty lies in its ability to be doubled and shaped into any desired configuration. And you don’t have to stop at just using seeds. There were some stale raisins in this block I made for this blog post. They were a little too tough for humans to eat, but the birds will adore it.

Don’t misunderstand me; I genuinely adore Duncraft. They will sell me my next suet feeder; however, I won’t be purchasing their seed blocks. Without further ado, allow me to show you around my underground lab and give you a really easy recipe for seed blocks.

FAQ

How do you make bird seed blocks at home?

Bring water to boil in a small saucepan, add gelatine packets to water and mix constantly until the gelatine is dissolved. Add enough bird seed slowly to the gelatine mix until the seed is fully coated and the mix has a crumbly consistency. Stir until well combined. Leave to cool slightly.

How do you make bird seed blocks without gelatin?

Use peanut butter instead! Equal parts peanut butter and flour will create a sticky substrate for your birdseed to bind to. This combination of ingredients will also allow you to skip the chilling step that gelatin requires.

How do you make homemade fat blocks for birds?

Birds love energy-rich fat balls, which give them all the calories they need to get through cold winter days and nights. You can buy them in the shops but they’re easy to make at home. Simply mix kitchen scraps such as cheese, cake crumbs and dry porridge oats with melted lard or suet, and set in the fridge overnight.

What holds bird seed cylinders together?

Seed cylinders are convenient as they are held together with a natural gelatin, easy to unwrap as well as easy to place into a feeder.