- What is Suet?
- What birds eat suet?
- How To Present Suet To Wild Birds
- Making your own Suet
- Warning about Pests
Birds need a lot of energy and heat. While feeding them, bird feed is fine. Sometimes, it’s just not enough for them. There are many possible food sources that they can get it from, but one that stands out is Suet.
This popular bird food has a lot of benefits for the birds that eat them. Not only are they a source of energy and heat, but this will also give them the calories that they need to survive. Let’s find out what exactly Suet is and why these wild birds love eating them.
What is Suet?
Suet is one of the most popular and most nutritious bird food that many bird enthusiasts use to attract a wide variety of birds. Suet can also be an excellent replacement for nutrition and calories when winter comes. For insect-eating birds, this is most helpful as many insects go in hiding during the colder seasons.
Wild birds can eat suet in its rawest form; however, most people prefer using Suet Cakes.
Suet cakes are made from rendered animal fat mixed with other ingredients that can benefit the birds that indulge in them. They can come in many different shapes and sizes. They can also be homemade or pre-made ready for consumption.
One of our favorites is these Suet cakes that we found on Amazon. Wildlife Sciences make them, and they are high-energy Suet Cakes that are made with Beef Suet, Cracked Corn, and other ingredients that can attract many wild birds.
- 10 High Energy 10.5 oz. Suet Cakes. Approx. Size: 4.5” x 4.5” x 1”
- Premium Quality, Melt-Resistant Formula.
- Easy-Open No Mess Packaging. 100% recyclable.
- Attracts tree-clinging and perching birds such as Chickadees, Cardinals, Siskins, Nuthatches, Titmice, Sparrows, Woodpeckers, Blue Jays and Juncos.
- Ingredients include Rendered Beef Suet, Cracked Corn, Black Oil Sunflower and Processed Grain By-Products. Made in USA.
Why use Suet?
Why exactly do wild birds love Suet so much? There are many answers to this question, and here is a couple that might explain why they love it so much.
The first is that Suet can be an alternative for insect-eating birds. Most of these birds get their nutrition and calories from the insects that they eat. However, in the colder months of the year, these insects go into hiding, and food sources are scarce for some wild birds.
Secondly is that Suet is an excellent source of energy and heat for wild birds during winter since suet is a high energy food that can sustain these birds’ metabolism. It is not a matter of how much they love Suet. It’s more of how much do they need it to survive.
What birds eat suet?
Having suet in your backyard can increase the chances of seeing more wild birds. Many different birds look for Suet, and some might want it but not really need it. Below is a list we compiled to let you know what type of birds you might see when you finally set up that suet feeder in your backyard.
Blackbirds, jays, and other corvids:
- Black-Billed Magpie
- Blue Jay
- Clark’s Nutcracker
- European Starling
- Gray Jay
- Red-Winged Blackbird
- Steller’s Jay
- Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay
Chickadees, tits, nuthatches, wrens, and other small clinging birds:
- Black-Capped Chickadee
- Blue Tit
- Bridled Titmouse
- Brown Creeper
- Cactus Wren
- Carolina Wren
- Chestnut-Backed Chickadee
- Eurasian Bullfinch
- Great Tit
- Red-Breasted Nuthatch
- Tufted Titmouse
- White-Breasted Nuthatch
Thrushes, orioles, grosbeaks, and other large passerines:
- American Robin
- Baltimore Oriole
- Black-Headed Grosbeak
- Brown Thrasher
- Eastern Bluebird
- European Robin
- Gray Catbird
- Hooded Oriole
- Northern Cardinal
- Northern Mockingbird
- Orchard Oriole
- Varied Thrush
- Downy Woodpecker
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Lewis’s Woodpecker
- Northern Flicker
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Red-Bellied Woodpecker
- Red-Headed Woodpecker
How To Present Suet To Wild Birds
One of the easiest ways to offer birds suet in your backyard is to smear the suet or suet cakes on the back of trees. This will give them a chance to eat it while perched on the branch. However, this is susceptible to pests that hang around your back yard.
A better approach is to serve suet to wild birds is using a Suet Feeder. Suet feeders look different, but all serve the same purpose. They come as this cage-like box that allows you to feed suet to the while birds with ease.
We looked for a lot of suet feeders and finally found one that we like. It is this Suet cake feeder made from cedar wood with a rust-free mesh cage that you can hang on any tree. It also has a center section that allows for regular birdseed to be dispensed.
- The feeder is constructed of reforested, kiln dried, inland red cedar
- Feeder has polycarbonate windows and roof has anodized aluminum hinges for easy cleaning and filling
- Holds up to 5 lbof mixed seed and two suet cakes
- Hangs with an attached cable
- Made in the USA
Making your own Suet
If you don’t want to keep buying suet cakes because of the price or you may not be sure about what really goes into the prepackaged suet cakes, you might want to try making your own suet and suet cakes at home.
Making your own suet cakes allows you to specialize or customize what goes into your suet cakes. This can also give you the chance to attract certain types of wild birds into your backyard. You can always be sure that when you make these suet cakes that there are no additives or preservatives in them.
The first step is to cut up the animal fat you have (usually beef or pork). You can also use a meat grinder if you have one. Just be sure to remove all tissue and bone before moving on to the next step. To make it easier, you can ask your local butcher to grind you up some animal fat and take it from there.
Heat the Fat
What you want to do is to liquefy the fat by rendering it on low heat. It’s as simple as placing the animal fat in a pot and heating it on low until the fat melts and you are left with liquid animal fat.
Next is to strain the suet to remove any impurities that it may have. You can use a cheesecloth to strain the suet finely. You can also use a fine mesh strainer to do this step. You may need to repeat this step a couple of times, and you might need to reheat the suet at some point because when the fat gets cold, it solidifies.
Blend in treats (Optional)
Here comes the fun part. You can now mix in the added ingredients to your suet to make it more appealing to the birds you want to attract. This is an optional step as you can opt to serve it as is.
Here is a list of some ingredients that you can use to spice things up as they would say:
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruits
- Mealworms and other insects
Mold and Keeping
Lastly, pour the mixture into the molds you want to use and place them in the refrigerator to solidify. Once they do, you can wrap them in some parchment paper and place them in the freezer and take them out when you need them. They can keep for several months in the freezer, but I doubt that will happen.
Warning about Pests
Pests are a nasty bunch. This can include bears, squirrels, raccoons, mice, and rats. Some of the other animals may be interested in the suet you are providing for the wild birds.
If you are using a large feeder, you need to get the appropriate baffles and other safeguards to ensure that these other animals don’t get to the suet first.
If you are using a tray or just placing it on the bark of a tree, or basically just placing it on the ground, serving them in small pieces will be good as to let the birds get there first.
The best way is by using a suet feeder that can really protect your suet from other animals. The Squirrel-X Squirrel Proof Double Suet Feeder does a great job of preventing squirrels from getting Suet. This small cage design allows small birds to access the suet while protecting it from squirrels and other pests. The best thing about it is that you can put two suet cakes in the cage. More cake means more birds!
- SQUIRREL RESISTANT: Cage design allows small birds in to access the suet cake while keeping squirrels out!
- SUET FEEDER: Suet is a good source of energy and will attract a larger variety of birds to your yard
- SUET CAKE CAPACITY: Squirrel-X4 bird feeder can accommodate two suet cakes
- DETER LARGE 'BULLY' BIRDS: Bird feeder prevents the big bully birds from accessing the suet allowing the food for smaller birds
- DURABILITY: Steel lid and powder-coated weather-resistant steel cage construction
To find out more about preventing squirrels and pests from stealing the suet cakes and other bird food. Check out this article we have on the 13 Proven Methods To Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders.
Suet is one of the best alternatives to feed wild birds in any season. It has many benefits for them and can really prepare them for the upcoming cold weather. They love it, and you will love it too because it will give you the chance to see a wide range of birds in your backyard.
Pre-packaged suet cakes are great, and homemade suet cakes are great too. Most people prefer serving cakes because it lasts longer than raw suet as it goes rancid quicker, especially in the warmer seasons. Whatever you choose, you will not regret using suet to attract wild birds into your backyard.
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