Bird Muffins

IMG_6435First, let me hasten to say that these are muffins made for birds, not with birds as an ingredient. Never! They are part of my efforts to come up with irresistible bird treats, so as to lure birds to our garden during the winter. I have fallen in love with birds, which I hear happens to people. One minute birds are just birds, and the next they are flying miracles. My camera has had a lot to do with this. I never suspected just how full of personality birds are, nor how beautiful their feathers, nor how amazing their acrobatics, but my camera has become a second set of eyes. So I have spent some of last week poring over a large stack of bird books, and I found a recipe for easy “bird muffins” made with a Jiffy Mix. They seem like a good place to start.

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Bird Muffins #1

1 Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
handfuls of raisins, bird seed, and nuts

Make according to package directions. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pans.

Blend mix, egg and milk. Add handfuls of the raisins, bird seed and nuts. A handful is about one-quarter cup. Fill muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Makes six muffins.

Allow to cool. Break up and set out for the birds.

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Then in an old copy of Birds & Blooms, I found an easy recipe for a different kind of “muffin,” really a type of suet. Suet used to refer to a very specific type of layered fat that was found in and around the internal organs of cattle. My grandmother used to use ground suet in her Christmas puddings. In bird-speak, however, suet refers to a variety of high-fat food stuffs that might include lard, shortening, bacon fat, and/or peanut butter, and there are many recipes.

Bird Muffin #2

Melt 1/2 cup shortening and 1 cup chunky peanut butter over low heat, then mix in 2-1/2 cups cornmeal. Stir thoroughly. The texture will be like quicksand. Fill cupcake tins and top with bird seed. Cool in the refrigerator. Note: If you don’t use the paper muffin cups, you may have to freeze the whole cupcake pan in order to pop the muffins out. This recipe makes six muffins, plus a bit more that can be chilled in a small plastic container.

You can also add crushed egg shells to these muffins, shriveled grapes, pumpkin seeds–whatever you might have on hand. The shriveled apples will be chopped and set out for the birds. One thing I have already learned is that there are different qualities of bird seed, and to avoid the cheap stuff, which often lists a grain called “milo” as one of the major ingredients, along with wheat. They are fillers. Look for seed that contains black oil sunflower seeds, millet, peanuts and safflower seeds. The black oil sunflower seeds, in particular, are favorites of many birds.

Following are a few bird photos that in the rush of late summer never got posted, though the first picture was taken today. I was happy to see these two little finches. Namaste. Fran

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