We Made Valentine's Day Bird Treats But This Messy DIY Turned Fowl

Our feathered friends need a little extra help during these long winter days, so we wanted to show them some love on Valentine's Day by making them a special treat. As natural food sources start running low toward the end of winter, more birds flock to backyard feeders for sustenance. Wild Birds Unlimited states birds need food with extra fat in the winter for survival. Healthy fat sources include store-bought suet cakes, high-fat seeds and nuts, and coconut oil. We wanted to make our own for our beautiful backyard visitors.

We love to provide suet cakes because they attract a variety of birds to our space, but we thought it would be fun to try our hand at making a similar product at home using items we already had in the kitchen. We found a simple recipe on Instagram for our homemade birdseed cakes using coconut oil, so we wanted to see if it would stand up to our unpredictable weather and if our backyard birds would like it.

Preparing the ingredients

Since we were trying this project for the first time, we were not sure how many hanging bird feeders the recipe would make. We decided to halve the recipe we were using to make sure we didn't up with way too many. For our blend, we started with 2 cups of wild birdseed mix, ¼ cup melted coconut oil, 1 cup of water, and a package of gelatin. To show a little extra love to our beautiful feathered friends, we used a set of Valentine's Day-themed cookie cutters to shape the cakes. We had everything except the cookie cutters in our kitchen, so this project only cost us about $2. Of course, we can use the cookie cutters for future projects.

As we gathered our materials, we realized this might get a bit messy, so we covered our workspace with a cloth. Parchment paper on a sheet pan provided a place to put everything together, and we needed a mixing bowl to blend all our ingredients.

Making hanging birdseed cakes

To make our hanging bird feeders, we followed the instructions we found on Instagram. Thankfully, the poster made it clear that the actual amounts would vary based on the kind of birdseed you were using and possibly other considerations. We went into this process knowing there might be some trial and error. There was.

On our first try, we blended the birdseed with ¼ cup melted coconut oil. We added a few tablespoons of prepared gelatin, starting with just a little at first to ensure the mixture wasn't too wet. With all the ingredients well-mixed, we packed the mixture into our cookie cutters and poked a hole in each one with the end of a mixing spoon. Our sheet pan went into the fridge for an hour to harden the coconut oil, which would hopefully make our birdseed hangers solid enough to hang. We waited impatiently for them to be finished, took them out of the fridge, and removed the mixture from the cookie cutters. They crumbled.

Making birdseed cakes again

Not ready to give up on this project, we believed we discovered the problem: the mixture was too wet and there wasn't enough coconut oil to hold the birdseed together. We started over by crumbling the rest of the birdseed back into the bowl and adding an additional ¼ cup of melted coconut oil. This time we didn't add any gelatin. We aren't sure what that ingredient was supposed to do, but in our mixture, even the small amount we used just seemed to offset the coconut oil.

We mixed everything well and this time the mixture was much more dense, like a suet cake. The ratio of 2 parts birdseed to 1 part coconut oil seemed like it might work. We packed the cookie cutters and made a hole in each. The sheet pan went back into the fridge for another hour to get solid. We had high hopes for this second batch when it was time to take them out of the cookie cutters. This time we had some success.


Even after we adjusted the ingredients, we only had a 50% success rate. Three of our cakes came out perfectly, but the other three broke when we removed them from the cookie cutters. It may have been the shape that affected how well they stuck together since the lips, heart, and circle did well, but the double hearts, X, and arrow fell apart. We used cotton string to hang our surviving birdseed cakes and placed the broken pieces out for the squirrels.

We tested the cakes in different weather conditions. This has been an unusually warm February, so the cake we put out on a sunny, 60-degree day melted off the string in less than 30 minutes. This is not a warm-season project. The next day was cool and rainy with a high of 55 degrees. This time, the birdseed cakes stayed perfectly intact, waiting to provide a tasty meal for our birds. We were pleased that they held up so well in the cool rain.

Ultimately, we probably wouldn't do this project again since it's so much easier to buy suet cakes. However, this would be a fun winter project to do with kids using larger cookie cutters. Making birdseed cakes was really messy. Birdseed seemed to go everywhere, and the coconut oil made our hands oily and sticky. Still, we were happy to do something a little extra to show appreciation for our backyard birds that bring us so much joy during these long, cold months.