Sep 14, 2016 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2016

Suet Tips and Tricks

Downy woodpeckers are just one of many backyard bird species that are very attracted to suet.
Share:

Suet is the dense, white fat that collects around the kidneys and loins of cattle. It is often sold in grocery stores at the meat counter—raw. It's fine—and very affordable—to offer chunks of raw suet to birds, but it spoils quickly, so plan to offer small bits often. Raw suet melts easily, too, so in bright sun, it can become a putrifying mess.

Commercial suet blocks have been "rendered," or melted, poured into a mold, and left to harden, which gives them a longer shelf life. Birdseed, nuts, or dried fruit is sometimes mixed in with the suet during the rendering as an added treat for the birds. Be careful of suet blocks that contain milo or millet. Such a combination proves irresistible for starlings.

Some people buy raw suet at the grocery store and render it at home, adding peanut butter, cornmeal, chopped peanuts, raisins, or sunflower hearts. It's easy to do (use low heat and a sturdy pan), but prepare for a stinky kitchen. Many bird species eat suet, including some you might need to look up in a field guide to identify. All the regular seed-eaters, including chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers, eat suet, as well as wrens, sapsuckers, some warblers, orioles, creepers, and others.



What do you think? Tell us!

New On This Site

The Latest Comments

  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021
  • This breaks my heart. God strengthen your spirit and comfort your heart.I am fortunate to be taking a vacation next month, hopefully before sky high inflation hits and I can no longer afford it.
    by Ironweeds, Fri, 27 Aug 2021
  • What is emptying my jelly feeder overnight.
    by Gary Vandervest, Wed, 25 Aug 2021
  • Thank you, Dawn. I'm close enough to Ohio (Ann Arbor, Michigan) that I went ahead and took my tubes down and scoured clean all my bird baths. I won't put up my tubes this winter, just my trays and safflower only just to keep the bullies away for a while.
    by Pat Moore, Mon, 09 Aug 2021