Suet is rendered animal fat. The rendering of the animal fat kills bacteria preventing the suet from becoming rancid. This animal fat is what attracts the woodpeckers and other birds to the suet feeder. It’s a great supplement for birds that flourish on insects.
Feeding birds suet was traditionally a way to provide a high energy food for birds during the winter months to help them keep warm. Suet is not regular beef fat but specifically the fat from around the kidneys of cattle. Unlike most fat commonly found on cuts of meat, suet is the easiest-melting fat on the animal.
But birds actually feed on suet more often during the spring and summer than all winter long. Suet bird feeders are more frequently visited from March through August.
Spring and summer is the nesting season where energy requirements are extremely high. Birds are identifying and defending territories. Excavating cavities for nesting. Laying clutches of eggs and incubating them for extended periods. Once the eggs have hatched the adults will make hundreds of trips a day providing food for the young all while continuing to defend the nest site. Once the nestlings have fledged the adults continue to feed their young while teaching them where to find food, water, and shelter along with how to survive in a competitive world.
So the energy requirements for birds are extremely high all year long. From the need to keep warm in the winter, nesting in the spring and summer and for some birds, the added stress and energy requirements for migration.
Suet feeders come in a variety of options. They include:
WIRE SUET BASKETS that hold 11 ounce suet cakes. Also double wire suet baskets for 2 suet cakes
UPSIDE DOWN SUET FEEDERS that deter unwanted birds from robbing the suet. (Starlings, blackbirds, etc)
CAGED SUET FEEDERS that deter not just unwanted birds but squirrels as well.
SUET BALL SUET FEEDERS for holding suet balls. Comes in a variety of shapes and sizes
NATURAL LOG SUET FEEDERS for holding suet plugs. Upside down suet logs are also available. A natural way to feed birds of the tree trunk zone.
TAIL PROP SUET FEEDERS where woodpeckers brace their tail for leverage while feeding.
SQUIRREL PROOF SUET FEEDERS New on the market by Brome Bird Care, home of the Squirrel Buster Bird Feeder line. Weight of a squirrel closes access to suet
BIRD FEEDERS W/ SUET BASKETS Hopper bird feeders with suet baskets attached to the side
SUET FEEDING TIPS: Remove wrapper from suet cake. leave in hard plastic shell, insert in suet basket. Hang upside down. Unwanted birds sitting on top cannot pierce the plastic shell. This makes an inexpensive upside down suet feeder. If squirrels and starlings become a problem feed pure suet without nuts or seeds which is what attracts unwanted visitors.
Homemade suet is fun to create. Use suet from the butcher, not meat fat, and melt the suet down to a liquid. You can also use lard (not Crisco). Lard is rendered animal fat. Mix in seeds, nuts, and chopped fruits. Pour in a container and cool in freezer.
BIRDS ATTRACTED TO SUET: All woodpeckers are attracted to suet as are most other birds of the tree trunk zone. That includes nuthatches, wrens, and during the winter months Brown Creepers. During the summer woodpeckers will bring their young to the suet feeder and feed them chunks of suet.
Don’t forget to Like Us on Face Book or Follow Us on Instagram as Dave Titterington and the Wild Bird Habitat Stores continue our series on “The Seven Basic Bird Feeders” for your backyard bird feeding enjoyment. Watch for our next basic backyard bird feeder coming soon.
You can also review the first 4 of these 7 Basic Backyard Bird Feeders at the Wild Bird Habitat Stores.