Suet is a much loved treat for insect-eating birds. It provides them with the protein they need and helps insect-eating birds such as woodpeckers through the winter when the insects are scarce. Suet is actually the fat from around the kidney and can be served as is (although it will turn rancid) or rendered. You can also purchase it in pre-made blocks or plugs which will frequently be flavored and mixed with fruits, seeds and nuts.
You can also very easily make your own home-made suet for birds using a very simple recipe. Here is the basic recipe that we use:
Home-Made Suet For Birds
- 1 cup of peanut butter (The cheaper the better. Cheaper peanut butters have higher oil contents.)
- 1 cup of shortening or lard.
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour.
- 1 cup of whole oats
- 2 cups of mixed fruits, nuts and seeds (approximate)
- For the fruit mixture, I dice raisins, nuts, coconut, and frozen or dried apple pieces together with some mixed bird seed. Feel free to substitute what you have on hand.
Stir this all together until it is the consistency of a really stiff cookie dough. It should stick together, but not be doughy. And there you have it, your very own home-made suet for birds. Easy!
I generally only feed this to our birds in the colder months for fear of spoilage, but the birds seem to really like it. In fact, with this home-made bird suet, we have managed to attract: white-breasted nuthatches, red-breasted nuthatches, flickers, red-bellied woodpeckers, red-headed woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers and orioles. Sparrows and grackles will also eat it as well… and of course the squirrels will devour it when they get the chance.
We usually offer this to the birds in our home made suet feeder but you can of course put it out in any suitable suet bird feeder.