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.
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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.



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  • I have the same situation. The feeder is attached to the middle of a large picture window that goes ceiling to floor w/ no ledge or sill for animals to climb or balance. Yet every morning all the sunflower seeds have been cracked open and hulls left. Any ideas what it is?
    by Liza Fox, Sun, 15 Nov 2020
  • I have a bird feeder that sticks to my window and I've been hearing noises against the window at night right now its going on. But whatever it is it is aware of me. And when I get to window it leaves.I can't imagine a squirrel or mouse or possom being able to get at it. ...So as I was reading this article im to assume no bird eats at night. Or no birds will eat at night. Why is that? Then im also thinking of a sinereo that could a lost confused bird eat at night. This eating thing is watching meI turn out the light go there noise dissappears..Thank you.
    by Nosferatu, Thu, 05 Nov 2020
  • I have metal baffles (cones) on my pole for my bird feeders. Something is still tempting them at night. What else could it be? Deer???
    by Ella Spencer Connolly, Thu, 27 Aug 2020
  • I found where he lives, then I keep him up all day by singing at full volume! Hah, that'll show the little sucker!
    by Pike Juan, Tue, 11 Aug 2020
  • I never knew feeding birds could be so confusing. I love watching the birds in my backyard even though I don't get a very big variety.
    by JustMyOpinion, Sun, 26 Jul 2020