Bark Butter For Birds

Bark Butter For Birds by Myrna Pearman

March 06, 2023 | Myrna Pearman, Chin Ridge Seeds (en-CA)

Myrna Pearman, Resident Naturalist & Backyard Bird Feeding Expert
Myrna Pearman, Resident Naturalist & Backyard Bird Feeding Expert

This article is part of our "Ask Myrna" Backyard Bird Feeding Series.

If you would like to complement your regular seed and suet feeding offerings, I highly recommend trying bark butter! Bark butter is created by melting and mixing together peanut butter and lard (rendered pork fat). The safest way to do it is to dump the two ingredients (I use a large tub of peanut butter to a one-pound block of lard) into a large pot and turn the stove on low heat until both ingredients have melted, stirring occasionally. You might want to use an old pot (or get one from a thrift store) because the procedure can be messy and the pot is left greasy and difficult to clean. Having a designated pot will reduce clean up time!

Another technique is to set the tub of peanut butter into a pot that is about 1/3 full of water. Place a small bowl, upside down, onto the bottom of the bowl and place the tub on top. Again, on a low burner, watch and stir as the mixture melts. To save time and mess, I use two partly filled peanut butter tubs, so I dump half of the lard into a half-filled tub of peanut butter. I then melt the other halves together. No pouring or cleaning!

This mixture can consist of just these two ingredients or can be upscaled with the addition of mealworm larvae, sunflower chips, finely ground cornmeal and oatmeal, chopped raisins and fruit etc. Be careful not to thicken it too much with other ingredients or it will be difficult to spread.

This bark butter can then be dispensed like other suet mixtures (eg. pressed onto suet logs, smeared onto pine cones etc,) or simply slathered on tree trunks. Be warned that the grease will stain the trunk, so don’t use this method if you aren’t prepared for the stains. If you’d still like to smear it on a tree trunk, try fastening a short section of a tree (a small poplar or birch snag works well) to a post or to another tree in your yard. Then you get the benefit of this unique method of dispensing without staining your main trees and, if you discontinue feeding during the summer, you can simply dispose of the section.

You will be delighted and surprised at how quickly the birds find this delectable delight! Species that I’ve watched relishing bark butter include Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees, Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Blue and Canada Jays, Red- and White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creepers and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Of course, Red Squirrels and Flying Squirrels love it too.

Not only will the birds eat bark butter directly off the tree trunk, but they will also spend time around the tree bases, picking up fallen morsels.

Chin Ridge Seeds (en-CA)

Chin Ridge Seeds (en-CA), Ltd.

82066 Range Road 15-4
Box 4222
Taber, AB T1G 2C7