Introduction: How to Make Fat Ball Bird Feeders

I decided to give my feathery little garden friends an extra boost in the cold snap we're having and make some fat balls for them. It's easy to do and fun for kids - my daughter is only 18 onths old and she helped.

Step 1: Stuff I Used.

The moulds were anything I could collect up - washed out yogurt and humous pots, some small jelly moulds, a couple of old baby bowls. You can use or recycle almost any kind of container - I did some with flat plastic trays that vegetables and meat came in to make slabs to go in the cage on my feeder.
I also used:
2 blocks of lard (cheap supermarket own brand)
A bag of dried mealworms
A bag of wild bird seed
An empty food tin, washed and dry
A ball of string
A pan of hot water
A large dish of cold water
Some cling film
A nice box and some tissue paper (optional!)

Step 2: Put It All Together

Cut the lard into cubes, put them in the tin and stand it in a pot of hot water. I did this on the cooker so I could put a low heat to it if I needed to. You shouldnt need the heat on all the time - you want the lard to warm enough to melt, but NOT hot - it will melt through your containers and burn you if you make it hot.
While it's melting, cut lengths of string and tie them into loops - one for each mould. I put a big knot in each one to give the finished feeder a better grip on the string when hung up.
Put a layer of dried mealworms at the bottom of the moulds. Fill them almost to the top with the wild bird seed. You need to put the worms on the bottom so the seed weighs them down - otherwise they all float to the top.
When your lard is liquid, lift the tin carefully (I wrapped a teatowel around mine) and gently pour into your mould. I used a small skewer to gently stir the mixture to make sure the lard was evenly mixed through. Top up as necessary. Make sure you put enough in to hold the dry ingredients together. Poke the string loop down into the middle of each mould. If this leaves a hole, fill with melted lard.

Step 3: Setting

Once I had done all of my moulds, I put them into a shallow dish of very cold water to speed up the hardening of the lard. Once they were set I put them in the fridge overnight to harden them. Lard is solid but quite soft at room temperature so these are best kept refrigerated until you use them.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

My mum was complaining about not being able to put bird seed out any more because her cats use it as bait to catch the birds, so I made this batch for her. Once they have set in the fridge, get a jug of hot water and some cling film. Dip the mould into the water to just soften the outside (about 30 seconds worked for me) and tip your fatball out onto the cling film. Wrap it up and put it back into the fridge until you need it. I put some tissue paper into a pretty box and put the fatballs into it and gave them to my mum - she got bird food she can hang on very thin branches (that support lightweight birds but not fat cats!!) as well as a nice box to store more in.

Comments

author
EthanM2 made it!(author)2014-10-24

I didn't think of using pots like that but that is a good idea, i have 2

bird feeders so this should be a good project to make another homemade one

great idea keep posting!!

author
millmore made it!(author)2010-01-06

 Great idea. I'm going to give this a go today with some left over fat from a roast dinner.

author
kittiekat made it!(author)2009-05-02

Great instructable, would love to do this for the birds that visit my garden now that winter is approaching in the Southern Hemisphere..... Do you think you could add the size/weight of each ingredient in this step please? How big are the blocks of lard (250 grams? 500?) and how big are the mealworm / seed bags? Many thanks!

author
PrincessBabycakes made it!(author)2009-05-15

I am really sorry I have no idea how big the blocks were - I just bought the cheapest supermarket own brand ones I could find, I think I used 3 or maybe 4. I didint measure the seed or mealworms either - I had a large bag of both that I was just putting out on the bird table so used a few scoops of each.

author
kittiekat made it!(author)2009-05-17

Hi there, no probs, I bought 2 x 250 gr tubs of lard and a big bag of seeds and just did it all "by eye"! I had plenty of seed left that I'll just keep for my next batch :) I put the a couple of balls out the next day near my normal tube feeder, it took the birds a day or two to work out that they were food too, but once they did, they loved them and now keep fighting over them! Thanks for sharing, I'll be making a new batch soon! :) Here's a picture of the result

birds.jpg
author
jauncourt made it!(author)2009-04-02

This is also a great project for kids to help with. My mom does this in winter, and one year my son got to "help" and then help put them out in the feeder for the few birds that stuck around.

author
omnibot made it!(author)2009-02-08

Good idea .. should come in handy when spring almost kicks in around here.

author
popproject made it!(author)2009-02-09

try to keep feeding birds throughout the winter months they have a hard time finding food. plus, just think of how popular your feeder will be in the spring!

author
canida made it!(author)2009-02-08

Mmmm, mealworms. ;) Those look excellent - I bet your birds love them.

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