We got loads of snow last night (no school, businesses closed, etc.)—and it is still snowing. Which made me realize when I got up this morning that I had yet to get some suet out for the birds. In summer, I certified my backyard as a wildlife habitat. It’s easy to do at the National Wildlife Federation‘s site, if you’re interested.
And that means that birds and squirrels are accustomed to getting fed and watered in my habitat, making me realize that I was probably dropping the proverbial ball by not having some suet out there. So I did a quick search online and got in the kitchen to make some suet and find a way to feed it.
I came across Rebecca’s Bird Garden idea to put suet in small, shallow jars to hang outside. I had plenty of jars to use. I used two old artichoke heart jars and one shallow Mason jar. And being the farm-raised girl that I am, I had bailing wire lying around, as usual, so I fashioned the handles/hangers out of bailing wire and had almost-instant suet feeders.
The birds have already found the suet and are pretty excited about it. My habitat/backyard (and front yard—I put a couple there too) is quite active today, despite the 15+ inches of snow out there.
I have a couple of suet feeders outside already, so I froze some of the suet in the bottom of small plastic containers to fit in those. I had some extra suet, so I froze it in containers and then popped them out with the help of a butter knife along the edges and put them in a plastic bag to keep them in the freezer to feed as needed.
I found lots of recipes and great ideas—and realized I couldn’t follow any one of them exactly with what I had on hand, but I knew I could find plenty of stuff in the pantry to make suet. Here’s the recipe I ended up using:
Sesame seeds I had in the fridge
Quinoa I had in the pantry (since it’s a seed)
Black sunflower seeds (I have them on hand to fill my bird feeders)
Clover seeds (I use for sprouting)
I melted the coconut oil (about 1/2 cup) and peanut butter (about 2 T.) together on low heat, and then took it off the burner and added everything else, stirring it after each addition until it was thick but still pour-able.
I poured a small amount into the bottoms of several plastic containers and packed it down with a rubber spatula. I filled the jars and packed them down too.
I put all the containers in the freezer and let them freeze (only about an hour). Then I took some outside to the suet feeders and hung the jars from some branches. It is not supposed to get above 25 degrees today, so they will all stay frozen out there.
Birds use a lot of energy just to stay warm in the winter, so the fat in suet is much needed for their survival. Feel free to use any natural oil in your suet that gets solid: unsalted butter, peanut butter, lard, coconut oil. Also feel free to use all kinds of seeds; cornmeal; small, or chopped, fruits (dried and fresh); etc.
Make sure to not feed dry legumes, however, as they are not the best for birds. So raid your pantry, but do your research first if you have questions about what birds can and will eat.
Get more tips for winter bird feeding at the National Wildlife Federation’s post. I hope you have fun making and feeding suet this winter to help wildlife!