Feeding Wild Birds with Suet - Homemade or Purchased
What else do birds eat besides seeds and bugs? Would you believe... rendered animal fat! That's right - it's known as suet (much nicer sounding, right?)
Pre-Made Suet... Wait - it's not that yucky! You don't really have to make it from scratch. Blocks of suet are readily available in garden supply stores. In fact, ask a butcher in your local grocery store or meat shop... you might even get it for free! Suet blocks are also available online.
If you're lucky, you might even find suet with extra goodies like seeds, dried fruit, and (gulp) dried insects. Remember, this is quite appealing to birds.
Home-Made Suet... Making suet from scratch isn't too difficult, it's just quite... smelly. Basically, obtain raw beef fat from a butcher, melt it, and then cool it. You can make or purchase soap molds that are the right size for the suet holder. Some folks have even used a large baking dish, and just cut the suet into blocks. Remember to freeze the unused suet, or all that hard, smelly work will be for nothing.
There are some folks that improvise when the "fancy" suet isn't available. They simply place the suet in a microwave just long enough to make it soft, but still hold its shape. Then they roll the block in a mixture of seeds and dried fruits. There's probably an online source for dried insects, but...
Suet Holders... Do you remember noticing small wire baskets where you buy bird seed? Well, these are suet holders. They're made specifically to contain blocks of suet so that it's easily accessible to birds, and not squirrels or raccoons (or other little fellows with nimble paws).
Loose the battle - Win the war. Remember those nimble-pawed squirrels and racoons mentioned earlier? These little guys are persistent to the extreme, so why fight them. Locate a couple of feeders just for them in locations with lots of squirrel or raccoon activity.
It's not a sure thing, but they simply might become better citizens in your bird garden. It could happen!
About the Author: Susan Nelson Hopkins is an online gardening expert from Carlsbad, NM. She specializes in creating gardens that will attract birds.