As a resident of New York Sate I am ever conscious of our regional wildlife, which includes our resilient little state bird, the Eastern Bluebird.
Growing up I spent many of my upstate New York summers attending a local conservation camp; there I learned how to identify local flora and fauna and most importantly how to conserve our native species. One famous local resident was however markedly absent from our daily trips into the woods. Harsh winters and invasive species such as the European starling it seemed had decimated the population of the Eastern Bluebird making a chance sighting of the previously abundant species unfortunately rare. In an effort to educate us on the tragedy of losing our precious state avian our counselors gave us a special project, which they promised would bring back our beloved Bluebirds. Thus we learned how to construct the Peanut Butter Pine Cone Suet Feeder (recipe below).
I don’t know how much our efforts really assisted in the bluebird cause, however I do know that the Eastern Bluebird population has steadily increased over the past twenty years, maybe they just really loved our suet.
4 – 6 Large pine cones
2 – 3 Feet of string, twine or flexible wire (for hanging) for each pinecone
1 large mixing bowl
1 cookie tray or shallow baking pan
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup Crisco shortening or solidified bacon drippings at room temperature
3 cups mixed seeds (black sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts, hulled safflower seeds)
1 cup of cornmeal
1/2 – 1 cup chopped dried berries (raisins, cranberries, cherries, currants)
Tie the string in a knot around the bottom (widest) part of the pinecone, leaving enough at the end for hanging purposes. Next mix peanut butter, shortening and cornmeal until thick and paste-like. Then mix seeds and chopped berries together in the shallow tray. With a butter knife spread the peanut butter mixture onto the pinecones covering as much of the surface as possible. Take the peanut butter covered pinecones and roll in the nut and berry mixture making sure to cover completely, once done hang in a tree and watch the birds flock to your new aviary café.
Tips: Suet is best used when outdoor temperatures are below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Also make a few extras, wrap in wax paper and place in the freezer. Once the ones you have hung outside have been picked clean replace with one from the freezer.