Nuts. An excellent food for birds. Not so excellent for people with an allergy.
Bird feeders are a great way to learn basics about common local birds and provide life to your yard in the winter. A bird feeder is a great family activity that can take you into nature right in your own backyard. Nothing is more fun than sitting inside your house with a cup of hot cocoa while watching birds visit your backyard feeders.
One time after a bird program, I was approached by a family who said they loved feeding birds but their child had an extreme nut allergy. This had never entered my mind, but it seems to be more common each year.
I am often asked now what families can feed birds when they have kids who are allergic to nuts. Pretty much everything offered for bird feeding has some type of nut in it.
The solution is animal fat.
As a kid, my father would talk to the meat guy at the grocery store and ask for some animal fat. The meat guy would appear with a small package of white strips. He seemed very happy to get rid of it. The animal fat wound up in black wire suet cages that were hung for the birds. The birds loved it, and it has no nuts.
So, feed the birds. Talk to the meat guy at your favorite grocery store. Ask for strips of animal fat. Just ignore his puzzled look when you ask.
Author Tony Bulmer is a naturalist, historian and the senior interpreter at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. ECLP has Barred Owl Campfires, classes on bird banding and a Bird Study Merit Badge class coming soon.