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Crumbly Bird Pudding Story & Recipe

Submitted by Audrey Heagy and David Okines, St. Williams near Long Point
When the bluebirds showed up at the bird bath on December 31st, we only had small supply of fresh mealworms on hand. Being a Sunday and New Year’s Eve to boot, a trip to the local feed store to get dried mealworms wasn’t an option for a few days.  I’ve been making a “bird pudding” mix for the birds for years using a Project Feederwatch recipe.  That forms hard blocks that I put in suet feeder.  Initially I just scraped off some of that mix for the bluebirds and put it with the live mealworms and they gobbled both up.   So I mixed up a more crumbly bird pudding for the bluebirds, based on recipes in the Cornell bluebird book and the Stokes bluebird book. Amounts are approximate. 

Crumbly Bird Pudding Recipe

1 pound of lard   (= ~ 2 cups)
~2 c crunchy peanut butter
8 c cornmeal (I think I didn’t have enough cornmeal so included some quick oats)
2 c flour
2 c sunflower chips (I had unsalted roasted whole sunflower seeds on hand so chopped those in a blender)
1 c currants

This recipe was enough to fill 2 ice cream tubs – which has lasted about a month now. Can do half or quarter of a recipe if you want to give it a try.  

I use a fork to loosen it up before putting it out. I only put out about ½ cup at a time. I bought a bucket of dried mealworms mix a handful of them in with the bird pudding mix.  Sometimes the birds eat all of the pudding mix and leave the mealworms to last.  

Initially I was putting mix in small glass cup on the railing by the bird bath.  The Blue Jays and starlings soon found the food and would eat everything  at once.  A friend lent me a bluebird feeder she had got from Wild Bird Unlimited.  Like a hopper style feeder with clear plexiglass sides, wood base, roof and ends.  Hole in each end like a bluebird box.  Roof swings open to put the food inside.  It works well.  

Dave looked at some of the designs of the wire bluebird cage style feeders on the internet.  He then built a wood box with wire weld mesh on each end.  He cut 1.5” diameter hole entrance holes in the weld mesh, about 1” off the bottom.  Bluebirds use it but the juncos also figured out how to get in and out.  Juncos had initially just been gleaning crumbs of the deck.  The juncos are still trying to figure out how to get into the other feeder with the holes higher up the sides.   I’m planning to use that one for the live mealworms.  Fortunately we don’t have house sparrows around regularly as they will use either feeder design.  

It has been a fun winter watching the bluebirds eat and bathe. Looking forward to seeing them gobbling fresh mealworms.

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