I am in the midst of creating layers of crystalline on a stump in the backyard. Placed near the border of ivy and pines, I am hoping the birds will flock to the stump and enjoy the salt crystals as they form. The crystalline should help ease their craving for salt and keep them from ingesting rock salt and ice melt when the ground is covered in snow.
Recipe for Crystalline
Mix salt and ashes with enough water to dissolve and pour over a large rock, stump or wood block. As the water evaporates, crystals form that attract mineral-hungry birds. (Be sure to keep the salt water away from areas that are planted with shrubs or near gardens ? salinating the soil can create problems for plant growth.) *These can be fireplace ashes as long as they do not contain residues from colored (especially red) or slick paper
~ Mother Earth News & “Country Wisdom and Know-How
First I burned some small sticks and oak shavings. I used only natural wood and newspaper without colored ink to give it a quick start.
I let the ashes cool down and then used a large tin can filled with a 1/4 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of water. I added all the small pieces of ashes I could scoop out of the fire pit. The recipe doesn’t give exact measurements so I am just guessing about quantities.
I poured the crystalline over the stump and used the trowel I mixed with to batter down any lumps. The consistency resembled cement and easily stuck to the stump.
I will continue mixing up the crystalline after campfires, and build up layers on the stump. In a few weeks, if the birds don’t notice the stump, I will scatter some bird seed and hopefully they will come and dine.
Crystals can also be formed by using mixing up plain saltwater.
“Many birds crave salt as an essential mineral, particularly in the winter when roads are regularly salted. Unfortunately, feeding on the side of the road can be deadly for birds, and offering salt crystals at your feeders will help keep them safe. Create a strong saltwater solution and let it evaporate in a shallow dish to make larger crystals, or pour it over a log or stump if there is no danger of freezing.
TIP: Salt can kill grass and make it difficult to grow plants, so keep the salt you’re offering the birds well away from gardens and other plantings.” ~ About Home / Birding
Providing bird grit (available in pet sections) in cleared out areas also helps with digestion when ground is covered with snow. As always, a water source is vital for birds in all weather.