What Is Bark Butter & How To Make Your Own

If someone dangled an endless supply of your favorite food in front of you every time you visited them, you'd probably show up more often. Well, birds have favorite foods too. Increased visitations are part of the inspiration behind something called bark butter, a spreadable bird food that can bring more birds to your garden — maybe even dozens of species. Some birds love it so much they will not only visit your new birdie diner, but some even feed their babies with it. Bark Butter is a pre-made product you can purchase, and if you want to DIY it, there's a recipe for this mix that features peanut butter, oats, and a few other yummy-to-birds ingredients.

The first ingredient in the pre-made version is suet (beef, lamb, or mutton fat), and similarly, the DIY version features lard. If you've ever wondered why fat features so prominently in bird food preparations, it's an important part of their diets. Whether it's to fuel a long migration, navigate the colder months, or really nourish them throughout the year, high-calorie and high-fat foods quickly turn into usable energy. They help birds stay warm during the winter.

Making your own bark butter

Wait until you see how many new visitors you attract to your garden! For this DIY recipe, aside from the food ingredients, you'll need a large-capacity food processor, an airtight container with a wide mouth, and a spatula. And just a quick note about the nuts and nut butter: salt is a no-go for birds and oil can turn rancid. Keep peanut butter safe for birds by getting one made with unsalted, unroasted nuts, with no sweeteners, additives, or preservatives.

What you'll need to gather is 8 ounces of lard, 2 cups of peanut or other nut butter, 4 cups of cornmeal, 2 cups of rolled oats, and 2 cups of mixed birdseed or nuts. Put the lard, peanut butter, and cornmeal into the food processor and blend. Add the oats and mix until they're incorporated. Finally, add the birdseed or nuts until fully mixed. Using the spatula, transfer the mixture from the food processor into the container and seal. Store it at room temperature until you're ready to squeeze it into the nooks and crannies of your trees, as seen in the TikTok above. You might also spread some into cookie-cutter molds, pop those into the freezer for a few minutes to help them keep their shape, and then transfer them to your trees. Pro tip: if you sprinkle cayenne pepper into your blend (and your feeder), you'll deter the squirrels from stealing it, but it won't bother the birds.