We are always looking for ways to attract more birds to our yard, especially during winter. We have a few bird feeders and some bird houses but we have found that making homemade suet feeders has increased the number of birds we see each day. These suet bird feeders are affordable and easy to make, along with being a great activity to do with you kiddos.
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What is Suet?
Suet is animal fat that has been rendered to form hard cakes, balls, or other shapes. Suet is a great food to offer birds when they need more calories to maintain their body heat and energy levels.
Suet is particularly attractive to woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, jays, and starlings. Wrens, creepers, kinglets, and even cardinals and some warblers occasionally visit suet feeders.
When to Feed Birds With Suet
Birds are in greatest need of the energy and calories provided by suet during the fall and winter, when their other natural food sources have dwindled. Making suet laden with seeds and nuts can be a good holiday activity. Molded suet cakes will keep for a long time in the refrigerators, and they can be a good gift for the bird-lovers in your family.
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How do you make a homemade suet bird feeder?
Making homemade suet is just as easy as making hummingbird nectar or creating a custom birdseed mix for your backyard chicken flock. It is also more affordable than purchasing commercial cakes, bells, plugs, or blocks. Making your own suet allows you to customize the ingredients to appeal to the types of birds in your yard or those you specifically wish to attract. A homemade suet mixture is also free from preservatives, dyes, and additives that might be found in purchased suet products. While there is no thoroughly studied evidence showing that these items are harmful to birds, it’s always preferable to feed birds natural, organic food sources.
Homemade suet recipes do not need to be complicated in order to attract a range of hungry birds.
- 1 Cup shortening (such as Crisco)
- 1 Cup crunchy peanut butter
- 2 Cups oatmeal
- 1 Cup cornmeal
- 2 Cups birdseed
- Melt the shortening and peanut butter together in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Do not boil.
- Remove from heat.
- Stir in the oatmeal.
- Stir in the birdseed and cornmeal.
- Pack down tight into your containers for shaping the ‘bricks’ of suet.
- Wrap in aluminum foil.
- Place containers into the freezer overnight.
- Carefully remove the solid suet from the containers and feed the birds.
And there you have it, a homemade suet bird feeder that is ready to put in your feeder and ready for the birds to start nibbling on. If you are looking for a suet feeder here are a few that we like and have used.
Where to Place your Suet Bird Feeder?
The most important factors to consider when choosing where to hang bird feeders are those that affect how the birds will see and use the feeder. If birds do not find the placement comfortable, safe, or convenient, they will not use the feeder as frequently.
The best place to put a feeder will simulate a bird’s natural feeding preferences. Suet feeders for woodpeckers, for example, will be more popular if placed near tree trunks or thick branches.
Feeders in quiet, less disturbed areas generally do better than feeders placed near active areas such as a play structure, garage door, or patio.
Birds will not visit a feeder in an unsafe area. Position bird feeders roughly 10-12 feet from a suitable shelter such as trees, brush piles, or shrubs to give birds a safe, fast retreat whenever a predator is nearby.
Birds need to see a feeder before they will readily visit it. Placing feeders in a sunny, open area makes them more visible to passing birds.
Enjoy watching the birds visit your suet bird feeder all winter long!
We love getting our kids involved around the homestead. Here are some great books about birds in the winter.