Don’t stop the suet feeding just yet. Those little songful beauties have just traveled thousands of miles to land in your backyard and need some fattening up!
Many wild bird lovers will offer suet during the winter months and then move to seeds and nuts in the summer. It’s a good idea to wait until the June timeframe to switch UNLESS you are in a very warm climate that would be likely to melt the suet. Even then, there are many no-melt brands of suet that may be perfect for your situation.
Traveling great distances to reach their breeding grounds, wild birds use alot of calories. Nest building, breeding, defending territories and raising young requires a lot of energy and suet provides the much needed energy-rich nutrition.
So hang on a couple more months and buy a couple extra suet cakes to help them along after their long, long journey!
Fats are a highly concentrated source of energy for birds. Birds who primarily eat insects are more likely to eat fats than birds who primarily eat seeds. It is hard to provide insects to insect loving birds, but luckily we can provide these birds with various types of fats that they will enjoy! Here are some different fats you can provide your backyard birds:
Animal Fats: Animal fats contain the most energy out of all of the types of fats. You can provide wild birds with either bacon drippings, or fats that you cut off your meat after you cook it. However, do not give your birds anything that has been spiced. Since fats are soft, you will not be able to put them in a regular suet feeder. When you have fats, you can smear them into a hole style suet feeder. A great suet for this task is the Log Jammer Suet Bird Feeder, pictured to the right. It is a natural log with holes that are perfect for providing birds with the healthy fats they crave. The Log Jammer Suet Bird Feeder can be used year round, and will have no problem withstanding the elements. If you give your birds the fat trimmed off of a ham, you can put that in a regular suet feeder like the Premium Single Suet Feeder-Stainless Steel. Ham holds together very well, so it will not leak through this wire suet.
One important thing to keep in mind with animal fats is that you should not put them out on hot summer days. They can easily spoil. This smells bad and will make birds sick!
Beef Suet: Birds love the taste of beef suet. The tastiest beef suet comes from the inside of an animal, around the kidney area. This type of fat can be put out in the summer, as long as it is not above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, because it is thick and not likely to turn to liquid. You can buy it from a butcher, just be sure that it appears fresh. If the piece that your butcher gives you does not fit in a normal suet, like the Single Suet Feeder-Stainless Steel mentioned above, you can melt it and reshape it. Do not put it out for the birds until it is hard again.
The hot pepper suet cakes for wild birds that we carry are laced with hot peppers that birds cannot taste but drives squirrels elsewhere for food.
We have a number of different hot pepper solutions:
Birds do not have receptors for capsaicin, the protein that makes peppers hot – which is the key to these innovative products.
The reason chilies incorporate capsaicin in their fruits (and red/green peppers of course are fruits in a botanical sense, not vegetables) seems to be to ensure that their seeds are dispersed properly. When small birds consume the fruits of wild peppers the seeds pass through the gut undigested and, due to the birds’ flight range, are deposited in distant places where they can grow with less competition. If the fruits were consumed by larger mammals the seeds would either be digested, or deposited much closer to the parent plant.
Studies have shown that the seeds of wild peppers are in fact dispersed almost exclusively by birds.
In the late fall and winter, heavy snow will bury natural sources of wild bird food.
Most of the vegetation of spring and summer has withered and blown away, and most insect species are either dead or dormant. I like to place a brightly colored feeder like the one to the right in the fall so it is easier for the birds to see.
Fill your feeders every day in the fall and winter, but put out only a quantity of seed that the birds can eat before sundown, especially where other critters are a problem and steal the seed.
For the fall and winter, consider adding suet feeders. Suet cakes are made of rendered beef fat, seeds and grains. The high-energy diet of suet cakes is especially important in colder zones where a bird’s metabolism has to work hard to keep warm.
There are bird feeders designed to hold one or more suet cakes.
Stamp down the snow underneath the feeders to help ground-feeding birds, such as juncos, cardinal and doves.
Suet feeding was once primarily for winter feeding, but now has become a year-round activity and supplements a regular seed-feeding program (and in some cases replaces seed altogether).
Wild Bird Suet is a high-energy source of food for birds, but used to have a bad connotation because it was messy and greasy. The new generation suet produced by C&S uses rendered beef kidney fat and seed, fruit combinations that may be easily fed year round. C and S also has a suet “dough” form that won’t melt for those extremely hot southern areas.
To fill a suet feeder, simply take off the plastic wrap, keeping the suet in the plastic container, and insert into a suet basket.
Hang the basket so that the suet is facing upside down–wild birds like to eat suet from this angle. No mess–no melting–and an excellent source of energy fat and protein to wild birds when they need it most.
Suet has come long way from the corner butcher and is now a highly refined product that is easy-to-use and extremely rewarding.
Suet is readily eaten by titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. In addition to the regular suet-feeder visitors, wrens, creepers, and warbles occasionally pick at suet mixes.
You can hang suet chunks from a tree in an onion bag or half-inch hardware-cloth basket, or in a more durable cage feeder like the one shown here.
You can also make your own suet pudding and feeder. Suet puddings are made by grinding and melting suet and adding seeds. (There is no evidence that suet puddings are more attractive to birds than chunks of suet.)
Pack peanut butter-corn meal blends (when you mix the peanut butter with cornmeal it ot only stretches the expensive peanut butter but also makes this sticky treat easier to swallow) and suet puddings into the crevices of large pinecones or into one-inch diameter holes drilled into logs.
Hang the pinecones and the logs from poles near other feeders, from trees, or from a wire stretched between trees. Avoid feeding suet when temperatures climb into the 80 degree range unless the type of suet that you buy indicates that it will not melt; it turns rancid and drippy and may damage feathers. There are a number of very good no-melt suet cakes on the market.
SuetÂ feeders are aÂ great way to feed your backyard birdsÂ during theÂ fall and winter months.Â Most suet feeders have a cage that isÂ made of sturdy, steel wireÂ that will hold up well in harsh weather.Â You may want to chooseÂ a suet feederÂ with a roof to offerÂ your backyard birdsÂ some protection from the elements during the fall and winter. Filling the suet feeder is easy because the suet cake just needs to be placed inside the feeder andÂ that makes itÂ very easy for any bird lover to use.
A roof style feeder like theÂ Go Green Bottom Style Suet FeederÂ is the perfect suet feeder for any bird who likes to cling upside down.Â The style of the feeder helps to protect your backyard birds from the elements, while offering them a tasty suet meal.Â This suet feeder is special because it is made from recycled plastic lumber that is great for the environment.Â Â The metal wire screen is coated in plastic to help protect the bird’s beaks.
One of my favorite suet feeders for birds is theÂ Combo Redwood Suet and Seed FeederÂ by Heath Mfg.Â This stylish, redwood feeder allows you to feed your backyard birds both suet and bird seed all fall and winter long.Â The roof with overhang helps to protect the birds as they feed and the large, wooden perch makes it even more comfortable for the birds to feed.
Another comfortable and shelteredÂ wooden suet feeder is theÂ Side By Side Suet Feeder by C and S Products.Â This beautiful suet feeder is made of long-lasting cedar wood that looks great all winter long and has plastic coated metal wire to help protect the bird’s beaks and resists rust.Â The birds will love double sided suet and you have the option of using two different types of suet.
No matter what the weather is outdoors, a suet feeder is an easy way to feed your backyard birds.Â For a great selection of suet feeders and suet, check out Rachel’s Robin.
Suet feeders are great for providing birds with the food and nutrients that they need for survival throughout the year. In addition to being a great source of food for the birds, suet feeders are easy to maintain and insert a suet cake. The suet cake neatly contains all of the essential nutrients birds need to thrive and is not as messy as regular bird seed. Even though the suet cake will last a long time in your suet feeder, always remember to replace it when it becomes old in order to keep the birds healthy and interested in your feeder.
Suet feeders are available in a variety of styles, but most suet feeders have the same basic square shape and consist of a metal cage that holds the suet cake. The metal cage is a standard size and will typically hold any type of suet cake. One of my favorite basic suet feeders is the Hanging Suet Basket with Copper Roof
. This simple, yet stylish suet feeder, has a small copper roof that provides the suet cake with protection from the elements. It is a great value and looks great hanging in a tree or on a post. You may want to place a few suet feeders around your yards once you start having birds snacking on one.
If you like the idea of a suet feeder, but would also like to feed the birds seed, too, then a suet and seed combo feeder is perfect for you. My favorite combination feeder is the Deluxe Cedar Chalet Feeder w/suet
. This charming and practical feeder can hold two suet cakes and 5.25 pounds of bird seed. With a feeder like this one, you can attract a variety of multiple birds at one time. It has clear panels on either side to make viewing the bird seed easy and is mostly constructed of cedar wood for durability.
If you are an environmentally conscious bird lover, than you may want to use a suet feeder made from recycled materials. The Going Green Recycled Plastic Suet Bird Feeder
has a roof made from recycled plastic and steel cage that is strong and durable. The recycled plastic roof won’t absorb water and become moldy. This suet feeder is great for helping the environment and for feeding the birds.
Adding a suet cake to your bird feeder collection is ideal for any busy bird lover. Suet feeder are easy to fill and maintain. Suet cakes don’t create a big mess and are a great source of nutrients for birds.