Birds & Blooms
FRUITS, SEEDS, FATS, NUTS and more mix beautifully to create a calorie-dense treat for backyard birds. Here’s how to serve it up.
Expand your feeder offerings with this nutrient-rich snack.
FALL OFFERS LOTS OF FANTASTIC BIRD-WATCHING OPPORTUNITIES.
Leaves see enough A attracts high-fat, treetop begin to both set protein-packed visitors, to insect-eating out drop, a favorite and making it’s offering, species treat: finally it easier suet. cool and it to omnivores, amount of calories all while to providing help winged the visitors perfect flourish in colder weather.
“At different times of the year, birds need different nutrients,” says Ken Elkins, the community conservation manager for Audubon Connecticut. “Suet can start to be valuable to birds in the fall, not just the winter.”
While suet is typically made from rendered animal fat, some bird food suppliers make plant-based options with vegetable shortening or nut butters. The fats are mixed with seeds, oats, fruits, mealworms and more—all ingredients you can try out in your own recipe at home.
When buying suet cakes from the store, shop local or from family-based suppliers so you can ask questions regarding their ingredients and melting temperatures.
Cornmeal and peanut butter can go rancid quicker, Ken says. He also warns that nut butters in high heat can be too sticky for birds’ beaks. Be sure to also check the plantations wild And ingredients birds while and cause suet other for is deforestation, palm tantalizing wildlife oil, as globally. palm for affecting birds, oil it’s brings great new for species bird-watchers, to your backyard too, as it for a closer look. “Suet is one of those feeding experiences where it keeps them there, in view, a little longer,” Ken says.
When it comes to placement, hang suet in a visible area about 10 to 12 feet from shrubs, trees or another protected perching spot. For feeders with windows nearby, remember to place the suet either within 3 feet of the glass or farther than 30 feet away to keep birds safe from potential collisions.
Also, note that the strong-smelling fat in suet attracts mammals, so keep an eye out for local critters such as squirrels, rabbits, deer or bears, and consider installing a baffle to deter smaller animals.
Ken notes that the suet you serve won’t replace a large part of a bird’s diet; the birds are still going to find a lot of natural food around them. He says, “If you are really trying to attract a diverse group of birds, think about having plants in your backyard to provide the foods they need throughout the season and to attract more insects.”
SUET PECKING ORDER
From big to small, these birds swoon over suet.
Among the brightest suet lovers on the block, these birds are medium-sized woodpeckers and flaunt a completely crimson head. They are most likely to visit feeders in winter and are drawn to oak, beech and other trees that produce nuts and seeds.
Known as camp robbers because of their habit of nabbing food scraps from campsites, fluffy Canada jays are found in northern forests across the United States and are fearless and inquisitive. The robin-sized bird caches extra food in crevices to survive cold climates, and may even rear its chicks in winter.
These sizable songbirds have short, thick bills, and both sexes have prominent crests. Bright red males and muted brown females are found in most areas east of the Rocky Mountains and parts of the Southwest. They often look as if they’re crouched over when sitting, pointing their tail feathers downward.
The smallest woodpecker in North America, adult downies can weigh less than an ounce. Found across the country in open woodlands, deciduous woods and even the suburbs, these black-and-white checkered creatures are often members of mixed-species flocks.
This stout bird features a pointed crest, a rounded bill, large black eyes and a gray body. Spot titmice in the eastern U.S. near open tree canopies, city parks and backyards—and watch as they whack large seeds on hard surfaces.
Blending into bark across the U.S., the brown and tan streaked creepers keep their white bellies hidden as they spiral upward around tree trunks. Smaller than a sparrow, they have slim frames, long tails with stiff tips, and slender, curved beaks.
These compact creatures sport sharp features and short appendages. The plump blue-gray birds may appear to have almost no neck under their blackand-white patterned heads. Find them throughout the U.S. along tree limbs, creeping in all directions.
Spot these tiny, energetic birds foraging in a frantic fashion through shrubs and trees across North America. At only 3 or 4 inches long, ruby-crowned kinglets are known for their minuscule green-gray frames, constantly flicking wings, and white eye rings and bars.