During the winter months, when the frost is about to hit and bugs start to die off, birds begin to look for other food sources that will fill them with proteins and fats. Seeds are an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients, but many lack the amount of fat and protein birds need to survive in the winter. That's why many bird enthusiasts switch to suet feed during winter. Suet is also a wonderful option for birds with bills that are not meant for opening seeds. If you want to attract a variety of birds to your yard, then a suet mixture is the way to go. There are plenty of types to select from that you can order or you can make your own at home.
A molded suet blend cake will usually keep in a refrigerator or freezer indefinitely. They can also be wonderful crafts and can be given as presents during the holiday season to other bird-loving friends and family. Making your own suet blend also allows you to modify the ingredients depending on what birds you are trying to attract and is free from preservatives.
Before rendering the fat, make sure it is separated from all bones, tissue, or other meat. Heat the fat slowly until it has liquified. Strain the liquid fat through cheesecloth or a small strainer a few times until the liquid is as pure as possible and free from any meat that is leftover in the pan. Now is the time to add extra ingredients, which can include: unsalted and uncoated nuts, creamy peanut butter, dried fruit such as raisins and cranberries, birdseed mix, and dried insects such as mealworms, crickets, and flies. Pour the mixture into molds or containers until they are cooled enough that they have become solid. Cover and put into the refrigerator or freezer to finish hardening. Finally, cut your suet cakes to fit into their own feeders if necessary and hang them in a safe and secure area.
Before you put your suet outside, it is always important to look up which birds are native to your area, which ones are just passing through, and which birds your suet will attract so you know what to expect. Some of the more common bird types to visit suet feeders are red-bellied woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, jays, and starlings. Wrens, kinglets, creepers, cardinals, and even some warblers are among some of the birds that are not seen often during the winter but may also be attracted to your feeder and venture out just for a piece of special suet cake.
The colder it gets, the more popular your suet feeders will become, so remember to put out several feeders at one time. Suet cakes and suet blend cakes are not only tasty to many birds but also to other pests and predators. You may not be able to just put out a suet cake on your feeder or hang it up alone. A suet cage is recommended to extend the life of your delicious fatty supplements and give the birds a fighting chance at their treat.
When picking the right cage, a metal one is recommended that locks but can easily unlock, allowing you to replenish the feeder. To make the feeder more comfortable for all birds, try adding a tail prop. This allows bigger birds like woodpeckers to be able to drop their tail and eat without getting too tired. Raccoons love suet cakes and can easily grab ahold of the cage, pull it down and open some of the easier ones. Make sure your suet cages are firmly attached to whatever you have hung them to.
If you haven't given suet a try, this winter might just be the perfect time. Whether you craft your suet cakes yourself or purchase them from your local Southern States location, this hearty feed can help our feathered friends thrive throughout the winter months.