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Birds have very high metabolisms and demand high amounts of energy to maintain their daily activities. Suet is a great way to help them replenish the energy stores lost during nesting, migration, and cold weather. It's also a great way to lure bird species to your backyard that might otherwise ignore your seed feeders.
Yields about 4 cups of suet
Variation #1: Cracked corn suet Increase cracked corn to 1 cup. Replace fruit pieces with 1/4 cup black oil sunflower seeds.
Variation #2: Sunflower suet Decrease cracked corn to 1/4 cup. Replace fruit pieces with 1 cup black oil sunflower seeds.
Variation#3: Peanut suet Decrease cracked corn to 1/4 cup. Replace fruit pieces with 1 cup of unsalted, bird food grade peanut halves.
Birdseed: If you feed birds all year round, then you are probably already buying bird food in bulk from farm or feed stores to save money. You can also mix in seeds from flowers going to seed in your garden. Some good choices are cosmos, sunflowers, zinnias, poppies, asters, black-eyed Susan, coneflowers, and sedum.
Fruit: If you (or perhaps your neighbors) grow cherry or other fruit trees, collect fruit with insect holes or bird damage, and cut it into halves or quarters. Other good choices for fruits include native berries like chokecherries, juniper, elderberries, mountain ash, and service berries. Store fruit in the freezer until you make the suet. It can be added to recipes while still frozen.
Fat: If you eat meat, one way to acquire fat for suet recipes is to trim the excess from meats before cooking them, or save the drippings. Freeze fat in labeled plastic bags until you are ready to use it. Scraps of fat can also be sourced from local butchers. It's also available in the meat section of some grocery stores. Experts disagree about whether birds digest pork fat as easily as beef fat, but most agree that lard and vegetable shortening are not good substitutes.
Suet cakes can be set out for birds while still frozen. Pop it out of its container and if necessary, cut it into smaller pieces before dropping them into a mesh bag (or wire suet cage). You're your feeders from tree branches at least 5 to 6 feet off the ground. You may also want to try smearing the suet directly on the bark of trees. This will be especially welcome to bird species accustomed to clinging onto bark in search of insects.
Keep an old coffee can and drain your beef or bacon grease into the can. When you have enough, melt it down. Add a little flour, some sunflower seeds and even a little peanut butter, and then refrigerate. When it goes solid, you can put in a suet cage or nail to a tree for the birds. ;)
Source: My husband
By Gooby from Straughn, IN
I always give the birds stale bread slices PLUS I feed them seeds and suet cakes but today (since I ran out of store bought suet cakes) I put them all together! I buttered the slice of bread with chunky peanut butter on each side (one side at a time) then dropped the bread into my bag of bird seed!
Each slice fits into the pre-made suet holders perfectly!
If you love BIRDS vote for me!
By Donna from NE Pennsylvania
For those who enjoy feeding backyard birds, suet is a great choice for attracting a variety of beautiful species.
I just got done making suet for the wild birds. It is cheap enough to buy, but gets even cheaper if you make your own. The following is my recipe.
This tip is for all you birdwatchers out there! This past summer I decided to start making my own suet. I make up a batch every month and store it in the freezer until I need it.
I am an avid bird feeder. In the winter I save my grease drippings, mix them with seed and pour them in a paper milk container. Put it in the fridge to harden and once hardened tear off the paper. I save my net onion bags and hang the home made suet in them for the birds.
Put this mixture in a suet cage and watch your birds enjoy.
Combine all the ingredients; mix well. Put in an onion bag or suet feeder, or pack in pine cones or into the bark of trees. Then watch the birds enjoy this hearty feast.
If I get a good sale price on peanut butter, then I can make my own for less or about the same price as store bought. I like to make it because I can add what I want and the birds seem to like it better homemade. I have bought cases of suet they did not care for, so I melted them down and added peanut butter and they loved it.
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Since peanut butter has increased in price, is there a substitute for it in making suet cakes?
By Pat Z.
Birds love lard and it is sticky, but will melt in hot weather. They do not like other shortenings, as I found out.
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By Louise B.
Here is a website that has other recipes for suet:
Most of their recipes add peanut butter and cornmeal and flour. I never added those but it could be a great idea to do that. When I would put the suet out in a margarine bowl attached to the fence, then all the wild animals would come up from the neighborhood, possums and all, they all expected it at a certain time. Remember if you start feeding them in the winter to keep it up because they will be expecting that as a source of nutrition. (02/06/2009)
By Robyn Fed
|Homemade Suet In An Onion Bag|
I've also used small muffin cups and then placed these in recycled onion bags.
The birds love this. I've never made anything and placed it out for them that they didn't eat.
By Teena from IN
Please explain "render" to me, I'd like to make some for the birds using this method. (02/13/2008)
What a thoughtful idea! Rendering is cooking the fat and harvesting what rises to the top when refrigerated, right? (02/13/2008)
Render= cooking the bits of fat until all the grease is out of them and they are floating in the grease. I use bacon fat left over from frying bacon. I also add any of the following: birdseed, oatmeal, bits of fruit and nuts, cornmeal, etc. I also make these in muffin pans and put out "cupcakes"for the squirrels, away from the birdfeeders. Cuts down on the critters raiding the birdfeeders :0)
Maggie O in Bloomington, MN (02/13/2008)
Please do not use onion bags or any other plastic netted bag. I did this for many years until one time, in the cold winter months, a bird got its' leg tangled in the netting. I was home at the time and was able to cut the netting away from the bird's leg. It was very traumatic for me and the bird.
If I wasn't home, the bird would have suffered and most likely died. So, please invest in the wire cages, they do last for a very long time. Please pass this information to any of your friends who feed the wild birds. (02/14/2008)
Here is a site that will explain rendering better than I can.
I save all of the left over bacon grease, and grease from frying foods, put it in a jar in fridge, (dated of course).