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The Nature Nut

Rosamund Pojar
Pinus ponderosa cone. (Wikimedia Commons)

Two weeks ago, I talked about feeding birds, but I did not have enough space to add the following recipe.

This originally was printed in a booklet produced by the Royal BC Museum, and we use it every year to feed the birds. It is a huge hit but must only be used when the daytime temperature remains below two degrees Centigrade.

It is called the Crawford Special and Butling Cone feeder after the name of the ladies who submitted it to the publication.

Prepare a syrup of 3 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar and bring to a boil.

Add one pound of beef suet (not fat), half a cup of peanut butter and one cup of either Cream of Wheat or oatmeal. Remember suet becomes liquid when heated.

You can find packages of suet in the freezer at some food stores (especially leading up to Christmas). Mix well and allow to cool.

One way to present this is to dip an open pinecone into the mixture when it is still liquid. Allow everything to cool and then dig the cone out. The mix will have seeped down in between the cone scales. Ponderosa pinecones are big and work better than lodgepole pinecones.

There are some Ponderosa pines growing at the junction of Seventh Avenue and Columbia Street on the northwest corner. Maybe there are some cones on the ground. Hang the cone with strong string or wire.

Alternatively, roll the mix into balls and place in an onion string bag or make cakes out of them and place them in a wire cage.

Make sure you secure the feeders as pine martens really like these and will steal them.