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January 29, 2012 / Leslie

Review: Secrets of Backyard Bird Feeding Success

Secrets of Backyard Bird Feeding
by Deborah L. Martin

Genre: Science, Birds
Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
Publish Date: August 31, 2011
Format: Paperback | 352 pages

Absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about attracting wild birds to your backyard can be found in this comprehensive book on bird feeding. There are chapters on many of the food types birds prefer from seeds to suet, fruit, nectar and bugs. There is even a section on home cooking with recipes for making your own bird treats and suet cakes, a chapter on various types of feeders, how to care for them and instructions on how to create your own inexpensive feeders.

A chapter that I was interested in was what kinds of plants and shrubs I should put in my garden to provide natural food for birds. I also wanted to know how to get rid of squirrels, but the advice was the same as what I already tried. They are impossible to get rid of and I end up feeding them in another part of the yard in an effort to keep them from disturb the birds.

Scattered throughout the book are lots of gorgeous photos and sidebars with tips and helpful tidbits of information. Such as, Myth or Truth: Does throwing rice at a wedding harm birds? Short answer, no it doesn’t. Some of the sidebars are in the form of charts, which I find easy to read, plus there are a series of informative quotes and other notes in highlighted boxes scattered among the text. This volume is much more visually pleasing than the previous edition of this book published a few years earlier.

The last chapter, which comprises the second half of the book, is a reference section including photos and profiles of about 100 of the most common feeder birds with information on what type of foods they eat, what part of the continent they can be found on and during what seasons of the year.

There is so much more in this book, I’m barely putting a dent in describing it. It is a great resource for anyone who wants to start a backyard feeding station, improve the one they have, or just make their yard more attractive to wild birds.

Peanut Butter Suet Recipe

The book includes an assortment of recipes and has a chapter called Kitchen Castoffs and Home Cooking, all for the birds. One of the recipes is the same one that I have used for my suet and I can guarantee that the birds love it. I serve this during the winter months when it’s cold and the ingredients won’t spoil in the sun. Other times of the year I use the no-melt store-bought variety.

2 cups crunchy peanut butter
2 cup lard
4 cups plain yellow cornmeal
4 cups quick oats
2 cups flour
⅔ cup white sugar
1 cup hulled sunflower seed chips
12 x 8 baking pan


  • Melt the peanut butter and lard. (Can be done in a large bowl in the microwave or a large pot on the stove). Use a low flame on the stove. In the microwave start with one minute increments on high, stir, and continue with 30 second increments until melted.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients
  • Spread in a 12 x 8 baking pan and cool
  • Cut into a 4×3 blocks, wrap in wax paper, place in storage container and keep in the freezer.

I refill the plastic suet containers that I save from the store-bought suet instead of using the 12 x 8 pan. Then I put each suet cake into a sandwich baggie before placing in the refrigerator or freezer.

Yield: 8 suet cakes

Source: Library copy.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Participation is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


Leave a Comment
  1. caite@a lovely shore breeze / Jan 29 2012 6:47 am

    i bet the birdies love them!


  2. Beth F / Jan 29 2012 7:09 am

    Wow!!! I didn’t realize you could make your own bird food. I mean of course, it’s obvious, but what I mean is that I never thought of doing that. Too bad I keep a peanut-free household or I’d try this recipe. Would definitely defray costs.


  3. Debbie Rodgers / Jan 29 2012 7:26 am

    Leslie, is there anything on how to make backyard bird feeding compatible with having a predatory house cat? I’m loathe to try the bell idea because that also cuts down on his effectiveness as a mouser. But perhaps she has tricks & tips for placement of the feeder, etc?


    • Leslie / Jan 30 2012 2:35 am

      No, birds and cats don’t mix. Every bird book I’ve read says the same thing, keep the cat away from the bird feeders.


  4. Libby / Jan 29 2012 10:40 am

    I’m showing this post to my parents – they are big-time backyard bird feeding people. always have been. also, I clicked your “Great Backyard Bird Count” button to the right and I think they would totally be down for that too – great post!!


  5. Peggy@Peggy Ann's Postp / Jan 29 2012 11:27 am

    I made suet once years ago! It is so much fun to feed the birds. I love that advertisement you have for the car headlights! cracked me up


  6. Suko / Jan 29 2012 11:15 pm

    This book sounds like it’s brimming with useful information. Great idea, to give this recipe for the birds!


  7. Marg / Jan 30 2012 12:56 am

    I never even thought about the idea of cooking for birds or other wildlife.


  8. Chelle / Jan 31 2012 3:14 pm

    This is a very interesting review of the book. In the main, bird feeders are essential for anyone who wants to attract birds and feed them easily.


  9. Carol / Feb 1 2012 1:54 pm

    Our library system has this, so I’m going to borrow it. I bet my daughter and I could have some fun making treats for the birds.


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