As long as it’s unflavored, gelatin is completely safe for birds. You can use it to make bird feeders, seed cakes, birdseed ornaments, wreaths, and a variety of other fun and festive bird feeding products. However, you should never give a bird flavored gelatin.
What You'll Learn
Gelatin can be used to create fun natural DIY bird feeders, seed cakes, birdseed ornaments and wreaths, and an assortment of other fun and festive bird feeding mediums. It is safe for birds to consume, as long as it is natural unflavored gelatin.
Watching wild birds visit your feeder or bath from your window or yard is a very enjoyable pastime. You get a warm feeling as you watch your feathery friends explore what you have left out for them to enjoy.
The feeling is even more satisfying when it is something you put time and effort into creating yourself.
You can create many types of bird feeders, seed cakes, and ornaments for your pet birds or local birds. One of the most common ways is using gelatin. Before you put anything out for a bird to eat, you should ensure that it’s safe for them to consume.
Luckily, unflavored gelatin is perfectly safe for birds to eat.
Is Gelatin Bad for Birds?
Gelatin is actually good for a bird’s diet. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends using gelatin in homemade bird feeder recipes.
Gelatin offers a host of Amino Acids necessary for protein formation. These molecules are the basic building blocks of life.
The most abundant amino acids in gelatin are glycine and proline. Glycine is the most abundant amino acid in collagen, which is found in connective tissues. Connective tissues are found all over the body, making this an important part of a bird’s health and wellness.
For a bird to survive and grow properly, it needs protein in its diet. During the development from hatchling to adult, protein is essential for strong, well-formed feathers.
Migratory birds also may have an increased need for high protein levels in their diets. Migratory birds have larger hearts and a more efficient respiratory system than birds who do not migrate. Some evidence suggests migratory birds have increased light-sensitive proteins inside their eyes, which help them navigate using the earth’s magnetic fields.
Birds also need more protein during the molting season. This typically occurs in spring and fall, between the seasons. Bird feathers are composed of 90% protein, which is why any additional amino acids that contribute to their growth will ensure birds have strong, healthy feathers to keep them flying and well insulated from cold and heat.
How to Make Gelatin Bird Treats
What you will need:
- Unflavored gelatin
- Cookie cutters (optional)
For every 1 packet (0.25oz) of gelatin, you will need about 1 cup of birdseed and ¼ cup of water.
First, you will need to combine the gelatin and water in a pot, bring it to a boil and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved in the water. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute or two.
Next, you will slowly add the birdseed. Make sure not to add it all at once. You want to be sure there is enough gelatin to hold the ornament together when you are finished.
You are now ready to mold your ornaments. The easiest way to do this is with cookie cutters or silicone molds, but if you don’t have any, that is okay too! You can use a pasta lid or mold a shape with your hands.
You want to make sure that you embed the twine/ribbon in the middle of the ornament so the seed mixture will not fall off. The birds won’t care if it falls to the ground, but you won’t get to admire your beautiful creation if it’s on the ground instead of hanging from a tree branch.
After you have reached the desired shape, let it rest overnight so the gelatin can harden before hanging them up outside.
An extra tip is to use gelatin recipes in cooler months. They are likely to melt and crumble if you’re using them in the warmer months.
Alternatives to Gelatin DIY Bird Feeders
If you don’t have gelatin or the climate is not suited for hanging gelatin feeders, there are some alternatives you can use.
Pine cones coated with peanut butter and rolled-in birdseed are great alternatives that offer birds protein and fat to store up for molting and migrating.
Coconut and lard are both alternatives to gelatin if you don’t have any gelatin. But they come with the same climate limitations that gelatin does. They are all better to use in cold months for hanging type ornaments.
However, if you just want to give your birds a healthy treat that can help them grow their hatchlings or give them the nutrients they need for molting and migration, there’s nothing wrong with using these in the warmer months. The result just won’t be as pretty as a well-formed ornament.
What Should be Avoided in DIY Bird Feeders?
When we create something for our pets or for wild birds to enjoy, we want to make sure what we are giving them will not harm them.
Some seeds and foods should never be included in DIY bird feeders. The seeds of apples, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, onions, garlic, avocado, xylitol, chocolate, caffeine, and salt. These ingredients should never be given to any birds as they can cause death or severe distress.
For example, the pits and seeds of the fruits listed above have a harmful chemical called cyanide. Birds almost always die after ingesting this chemical.
Creating fun and festive DIY bird feeders for your pet or wild birds is a great way to spend time with family. There are so many healthy options for your birds to help them get the important nutrients they need to grow strong and beautiful. Adding gelatin to your bird feeder projects is a great way to supplement their diets and create beautiful ornaments for your trees.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.