It’s that time of year when winter seems to go on forever! While we wait for those first signs of spring, we’re filling our winter weekends with some fun DIY projects to brighten up the yard and encourage birds to visit — because who doesn’t need a little color outside their window right about now?
Homemade bird seed cakes are an oh-so-simple afternoon craft. They can be made quickly with few ingredients and are a great activity for kids & adults alike. They make charming party favors and of course your backyard birds will love them.
You can get creative with shapes and use bright ribbons to add some pops of color to your yard, or add customized hang tags for a lovely bird-themed gift. Or hang them from trees using natural twine, which birds love to use for their nests!
For these seed cakes we used our Harvest Wild Finch mix. This blend is great for attracting small colorful backyard birds — it contains Nyjer® seed, which is much loved by Goldfinches, Buntings and Pine Siskins — and the small seeds help the seed cakes stick together better.
To make bird seed cakes you will need:
- 1 cup of Harvest Wild Finch birdseed
- 1 unflavored gelatin packet
- 1/4 cup water
- Cookie cutter (we found that the deeper the
cookie cutter, the better — 1/2” or more is ideal)
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Plastic straws
- Waxed paper
- Mixing bowl
- Cookie sheet
- Twine or ribbon
In a pot or bowl, add one packet of gelatin to 1/4 cup of water and whisk.
Bring water and gelatin mix to a simmer with low heat either on your stove or in your microwave (no need to boil.) Stir the mixture until all the gelatin is dissolved.
Pour 1 cup of birdseed into a mixing bowl. Slowly add the dissolved gelatin mix into your seed and stir (the trick here is that you don’t want the mixture to be too wet or too dry.) Add more birdseed if you see liquid collecting at the bottom of the bowl, or a teaspoon of water if the mix seems dry and the seeds are not sticking together.
Stir your mixture well, making sure all the seeds are coated with gelatin.
Line your cookie sheet with wax paper and coat the cookie cutter thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray.
The gelatin will be setting as it cools, so this next step should be done as quickly as possible! Fill your cookie cutter with birdseed. Make sure to pack it tightly into any corners. Once the cookie cutters are packed, place your straw where you would like your ribbon-hole to be. Make sure the straw goes all the way through to the cookie sheet.
Gently lift your cookie cutter up, being careful not to disturb the shape or the straw.
Once you have used all the mix, let your seed cakes cool for about an hour, and then carefully remove the straws. Turn all the seed cakes over and let them cool on the bottom side for an additional half hour.
When the cakes are thoroughly cooled and have gelled enough to hold their shape, let them set on a baking rack. It’s important to let them dry thoroughly on both sides so your cakes don’t grow any mold, which can harm birds. Allow the cakes to set and dry for several hours (we let ours dry overnight, but if you live in a humid climate you may want to give them a full day.) Lastly, add your loop of ribbon or twine for hanging.
Hang your seed cakes from tree branches, off your feeder, or include them in gift baskets or as party favors.
We love this project. It’s the ultimate natural, personal gift for friends or family, and especially for your backyard birds!