I’d by no means seen a Pileated Woodpecker eat out of an individual’s hand till 2002, when Carrie Griffis, a reader of my long-running nature weblog, despatched me photographs taken on her again deck, the place the large woodpeckers have been common guests. My first query was: “What are you feeding them?!” Carrie had made a home made concoction she referred to as peanut butter suet dough. I purchased the elements and whomped collectively my first batch that week. The birds instantly took discover. Greater than 20 years later, I’m nonetheless serving a model of the recipe to a shocking array of species in my Ohio yard.
With this dough, I’ve developed years-long relationships with a pair of Chipping Sparrows, a Yellow-throated Warbler, a pair of Pine Warblers, and any variety of woodpeckers. Nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, Blue Jays, and Brown Thrashers all clamor for extra. I’ve even used it to assist Summer time Tanagers and Baltimore Orioles by harsh Might freezes. It’s good things when made and supplied with care.
By the years, I’ve realized loads in regards to the composition and use of this superfood. Followers of my blog, the place I share my feeding observations, named it Zick Dough; although I didn’t create it, the title caught. What I did do was pay shut consideration to the birds that consumed it, and my recipe has advanced to raised nourish them.
The present model leans on unmedicated chick starter, which may be purchased in farm and feed shops or on-line and is loaded with protein, calcium, and different important vitamins. With out it, the unique recipe induced gout in my bluebirds when consumed in extra. A reader helped me out, noting that the combination contained an excessive amount of fats and never sufficient calcium (one thing to concentrate on with any home made suet). Utilizing chick starter as a base helps right the deficiencies. Thus was born Zick Dough, Improved, additionally that includes cornmeal, rolled oats, lard, peanut butter, and flour.
Zick Dough, Improved is a crumbly concoction not suited to a typical suet cage. It’s best offered in a small, coated feeder that can maintain it clear and completely dry. I’m an enormous fan of Plexiglas domes, which I droop over a dangling cup feeder. This helps maintain squirrels and chipmunks away. To thwart daring however skittish European Starlings and Home Sparrows, which is able to disappear your Zick Dough very quickly, grasp the feeder inside a couple of toes of an lively window.
As with all suet, Zick Dough is a wealthy meals and needs to be withheld in late spring and summer time, when pure meals are available for foraging and feeding chicks. It’s finest reserved for winter as a once-daily deal with loaded with the vitality and diet birds want. It’s great throughout ice storms when fruit and bugs are locked away, or in early spring when the climate turns vile for migrants. Dwelling cooking on your feathery neighbors will shortly endear you to them. Don’t be shocked in the event that they faucet in your window for extra.
Recipe: Zick Dough, Improved
Mix dry elements:
2 cups chick starter, unmedicated
2 cups fast oats
3 cups white flour (entire wheat spoils too shortly)
1½ cups yellow cornmeal
Soften collectively in microwave:
1 cup lard (my birds favor this
over vegetable shortening)
1 cup peanut butter
Instructions: In a big mixing bowl, slowly add the melted fat to the dry combination whereas gently stirring or mixing on low till a dough kinds. If too gummy, add slightly extra flour and cornmeal till tender, dry, and crumbly. Makes 12 cups, or 3.5 kilos. Retailer in mason jars in a cool place.
Serving: Present a half cup of dough as soon as a day as a winter or early spring deal with (in temps beneath 55 levels Fahrenheit solely). Place both on a dry, flat floor or, ideally, a small dish with a canopy to guard from rain and squirrels.