I'm a big fan of hanging treats for my girls, mostly because it keeps them busy for a longer period of time versus ground or chicknic table treats, but there also seems to be less quarreling over the goods.
I had been buying the birdseed bells from local stores, but wanted to take a stab at making a hanging treat myself. Bonus for homemade: you can customize the ingredients based on your flock's preference!
We have some mid-winter molts happening (what are they thinking?) as well as some lower than normal temps, so I've opted to lean protein heavy on mine. My gals go crazy over black oil sunflower seeds, so I mixed with that in mind.
I started with this recipe from a cute lady named Bev at Make Your Own Zone. I wanted something a wee bit smaller and easier to hang, so I incorporated another idea I've seen using old mason jar rings. We don't use gelatin or regular flour at our house, so I'm giving y'all the recipe I used below. I'm happy to report that they turned out great!
Mason Jar Ring Hanging Seed Treats
4 cups birdseed mix, black oil sunflower, or treats of choice
3/4 cup corn flour (or regular flour of choice)
1/2 cup Hot Water
1 T. of agar powder* (or 1 pkg of gelatin alternatively)
3 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
You will also need:
12 mason jar rings (I used wide mouth)
On a baking sheet, lay down a piece of parchment paper.
Cut pieces of cotton string to desired length and tie around each canning ring.
Lay the rings topside down on the parchment paper.
Prepare the seed mix.
Make the seed mix:
In a large bowl, mix together seeds of choice and flour.
Dissolve the agar (or gelatin, if using) in the hot water
Add the light corn syrup to the agar & hot water mix and stir to dissolve.
Pour the corn syrup and agar mixture over the bird seed flour mix and stir to combine.
Using an ice cream scoop, drop a mounded scoop of the seed mixture into the center of each ring. Using hands dampened with water, press flat into the rings.
Put the baking sheet into the fridge over night to set up. Alternatively, you could put in freezer to set faster.
Remove the next day to hang and treat your raptors!
The above recipe was the perfect amount to fill the 12 rings. You can also use whatever mold you can think up, or check out the link above to see the original post where she used a muffin tin. Next go-around, I'm going to try adding some mealworms, oats, or cheerios.
*If you are unfamiliar with agar (also known as agar-agar), it is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin obtained from red algae. I buy mine from Asian grocery stores in the Twin Cities— my favorites are Shuang Hur (St Paul and Mpls) as well as United Noodles and Dragon Star. Make sure you buy the powder and that it doesn't contain sugar, as it's used in many desserts. Telephone brand is my favorite and most reliable.