Dec 21, 2015 | Featured Web Article

Suet Dough in Moderation

Eastern bluebirds are just one species that will gorge on suet dough when it is offered at a backyard feeding station.
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When winter weather comes we all want to do everything we can to provide for our backyard birds. But sometimes our offerings can be too much of a good thing. High-energy foods such as suet dough are super attractive to a wide array of birds. In fact, suet dough and other high-fat-content foods can attract many species, such as creepers, warblers, mimids, bluebirds, and even thrushes, which are shyer woodland species that do not normally visit our bird feeders. It’s important that we don’t over feed fatty foods because too much of a good thing can cause health problems for our beloved birds. Imagine if all you ate all day, every day, was a constant stream of fast-food hamburgers—you’d soon experience health consequences. Birds that overindulge in suet dough can exhibit gout-like symptoms in their feet and legs. An over-abundance of mealworms in the diet of bluebirds has been shown to cause them to over-reproduce—with double the normal number of broods in the nesting season. The best way to offer these popular foods is in moderation: a handful in the morning and another handful at night. This frequency and volume benefits the birds without causing unfortunate side effects.

Looking for a good recipe for suet dough? Check out this one by Julie Zickefoose »

About Bill Thompson, III

Bill Thompson III is the editor of Bird Watcher's Digest by day. He's also a keen birder, the author of many books, a dad, a field trip leader, an ecotourism consultant, a guitar player, and blogger.

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