My brother, Jim Conforti, has transformed his Sound Beach, Long Island backyard into an amazingly wondrous bird sanctuary. During my stay last week with Jim, wife Donna, nieces Natalie and Haley and nephew, Hunter, I got a close-up view of birds such as chickadees, goldfinches, tufted titmice, a variety of woodpeckers, wrens and believe it or not, a Rufous hummingbird, right through the family’s kitchen windows. Noticing some of the birds’ fondness for the suet-type feed Jim had hanging in his yard, I decided to make homemade bird food, not just as an early Christmas present for the birds, but as a sort of experiment to see how the birds would react to something new and homemade. The effort was not in vain, and within minutes of putting out the food, Jim’s feathered friends arrived to dine on a home cooked meal consisting of peanut butter, flour, corn meal, cranberries, raisins, quick oats, birdseed and shortening, which made a good substitute for real suet compromised of animal fat. In keeping with the season, we shaped much of the food into balls and wreaths for hanging with bright red ribbon – a nice backdrop for some of the trellises scattered around Jim and Donna’s property. With plenty of food “stations” located in various areas around the yard, the birds sort of waited for their turn at the feeders and moved along, buffet-style, from one feeder to the next, at a nice pace and, astonishingly, in a very orderly fashion. As one bird finished feeding, another swooped in, with many coming back for seconds, thirds and more. The process repeated itself several times throughout the day, and by dusk, leftovers were stored and put away for the next day. The “suet” recipe provided here is guaranteed to entice a wide variety of birds to your yard, and in the event you are playing host to a lingering hummingbird, you will also find the formula for the nectar that keeps Jim’s hummingbird coming back day after day, even this close to Christmas.