This beautiful blue jay joined us for breakfast this morning. We had pumpkin cranberry muffins (recipe follows). Blue Jay had our home made wild bird treat of suet studded with peanuts, cranberries, raisins and millet. We buy the suet very cheaply throughout the year. Then we mash the additions into it with a potato masher or a meat pounder. If you put several pieces of suet together and add the additions as you go, you can get them to stick in between the sections so that they’re all through the suet. Before we freeze it, we shape it to fit our wire suet cages and wrap it individually.
Besides blue jays, chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, woodpeckers and even grackles visit our suet. We also put out sunflower seeds and mixed seed as soon as the first frost kills the vegetation under the feeders, where the cats hide. It just wouldn’t be fair to invite our feathered friends to a buffet where their worst enemy had a seat at the table. We also clear out an area around the feeders so that the seed that falls will be accessible to the groundfeeders. Mourning doves, sparrows, siskins and an occasional wild turkey appreciate this.
We live in a very rural area of Maine and there’s a swamp on our property, so it’s very good habitat for many species of birds. We hear owls calling at night, watch ospreys and eagles have aerial “dogfights” and, once in a while, have to rush out to chase a shrike away from the feeders or warn the songbirds that the peregrine falcon is sitting on the telephone pole, looking at the menu.
Here’s something you can put on your menu this fall. Make them while fresh cranberries and pumpkins are available, but if you can only get canned pumpkin, it’ll work just as well.
Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Two cups flour (white whole wheat flour works well)
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 to 1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 cup oil, melted butter or applesauce (I use half oil, half applesauce)
3/4 to 1 Cup Milk (Soymilk or water may be substituted)
1 cup pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped cranberries
Put dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl and mix well.
Put oil, egg, milk or water and pumpkin puree into smaller bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add, all at once, to dry ingredients and stir just until mixed. When almost mixed, add cranberries and fold in. Fill muffins cups 3/4 full and bake for about 20 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, if they last that long.