Jan 9, 2017 | Featured Web Article

Winter Bird-feeding Tip: Offer 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.
Share:

When winter weather comes we all want to do everything we can to provide for our backyard birds. High-energy foods such as suet dough are super attractive to a wide array of species. It may also attract creepers, bluebirds, and shy 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. 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.

Suet Dough Recipe:

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup lard
  • 2 cups unmedicated chick starter (available at farm/feed stores)
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour

Melt peanut butter and lard together in the microwave or over very low heat on the stovetop. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.

Allow to cool and harden, then chop into chunks and store at room temperature in jars. Serve crumbled in a shallow dish. Attracts bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers, jays, wrens, thrashers, orioles, cardinals, and towhees. To get bluebirds to accept it, start by feeding mealworms (about eight per bird per feeding), then gradually cut down the number of mealworms while mixing in crumbled dough. In their haste to gobble down the dwindling mealworms, they will get some dough and within a few days should be hooked on it.

NOTE: Although it's an excellent cold-weather supplement, this dough is too rich to be fed in warmer weather, and may cause gout in bluebirds. Feed sparingly and wisely.



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