Though we still have a bit of warm weather ahead of us, it is not too early to consider autumn and winter bird feeding options. One option for cold weather feeding is suet. Suet is basically the dense white fat that collects around the kidneys and loins of cows. Many seed eating birds, such as chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches and insect eating birds, such as wrens, sapsuckers, warblers, catbirds, and orioles love suet. You may find that adding a suet feeder to your backyard will attract some new visitors to your backyard.
Though there are many quality packaged suet varieties available for purchase, it is possible to make suet at home. Most grocery stores will sell (or even give away) suet from their meat counters. This suet can be put outside for the non-migrating birds. During the winter, it may not be necessary to render the suet. Rendering refers to the process where natural suet is melted and then cooled into a harder, longer-lasting suet. Warm temperatures tend to melt un-rendered suet, causing it to spoil much more quickly. To render your own suet, it is best done outside in a large skillet using low heat. This allows the discarding of insoluble pieces of fat and rind. Pour the liquid fat into any metal or non-melting container and allow the suet to cool. For a more nutritious suet, you can also add peanut butter, chopped peanuts, or sunflower hearts to the mixture before it sets.
The downside to using homemade suet is that you may have trouble fitting it into most suet feeders. The homemade suet can alternatively be hung from a string or mesh bag, but those methods do not offer much protection from squirrels, raccoons, or larger birds and may limit your hanging options. Fortunately, there are a variety of different suet feeders on the market and most will accommodate the standard sized suet block. Pre-packaged suet is often more resistant to spoiling and comes in many different varieties with ingredients such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn, and fruit flavoring. We recommend using pure suet in your initial feeding to attract a variety of birds. Once you have frequent visitors, you can experiment with different mixtures to determine which suet your birds prefer.
When choosing a suet feeder, keep in mind the following things: where you want to mount/hang the feeder, how it is going to be mounted or hung, and whether or not animals other than the birds you want to feed will have access to the feeder. Location is extremely important, as you will want to place the feeder in a location that will attract the birds. This may require moving the feeder until you find the perfect location. The method by which the feeder is going to be mounted or hung is also important. Most suet feeders are designed to be hung; however, there are a few models that can be pole mounted. A pole mounted suet feeder may give you greater flexibility on placement in your backyard. For excluding larger birds and animals such as squirrels, upside down and caged suet feeders are an excellent choice. Upside down suet feeders limit access to the suet to the underside of the feeder. While woodpeckers and smaller birds have no problem feeding upside down, larger birds and starlings have trouble hanging upside down and will be discouraged from using the feeder. If squirrels or raccoons are an issue, you may want to consider purchasing a suet feeder with a protective outer cage. Similar to caged seed feeders, caged suet feeders feature a protective outer cage that allow only the smaller birds to feed on the suet. While perfect for excluding squirrels, caged suet feeders are equally effective for larger birds such as grackles and crows.
We currently have over 25 different suet feeders available at http://www.bestnest.com/bestnest/suet_bird_feeders.asp
, where you will also find a variety of high quality, pre-packaged suet. If you have any questions or would like to place an order please visit http://www.bestnest.com
or call us toll free at 1-877-369-5446.