What Exactly Is Suet?

Suet is the mildly flavored beef fat from the kidney area. Traditionally this fat was also known as tallow, which was a main ingredient in candles and soap. It has a low melting point and can be easily combined with other bird-friendly ingredients, such as rolled oats, cracked corn, sunflower seed and peanut butter, etc. For an excellent high-energy food that the birds readily accept, suet can’t be beat.

Best suet in my opinion:

  • Birdwatchers Best Nutty Butter Suet manufactured at Pine Tree Farms, Interlaken, NY, USA
  • Heath Berry Blast All-Season Suet made by Heath Outdoor Products, Coopersville, MI, USA

Both are concentrated, long-lasting and packed with goodies and not fillers. My birds are very fond of both of them.

Backyard birds that enjoy suet: woodpeckers, including pleated, downy, hairy, red bellied and northern flickers; nuthatches, chickadees, blue jays, finches, juncos, crows, ravens, starlings and grackles.

Crows, ravens, starlings and grackles pose a problem at your suet feeder–they can wipe it out faster than you can turn around! In that case, use an ‘upside down woodpecker suet feeder’. These allow clingers like woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and finches to dine while excluding the suet hogs.

A couple of years ago I added a fresh suet cake to the holder attached to my wooden bird feeder. I looked out later that day and did a doubletake. The suet cake was gone already! I donned my coat and hat to investigate. There was no sign of even a piece of it anywhere to be found. But, the front of the holder was open. Now that thing is very hard for me to unlatch and latch because it is tight and stiff. And that’s a good thing. The birds can’t accidentally pop it open.

Well, I didn’t want my little friends to go without their suet in such cold weather, so I dutifully added yet another fresh suet cake to the holder making sure that it was as tightly closed as possible.

The next morning when I filled the seed feeders I noticed that the suet holder was again open and empty! I decided to begin a stakeout of that suet holder to find out just who or what was stealing all the suet. I didn’t have long to wait. Along came a large crow, which landed on the roof of the wooden feeder. That crow must have been trained by Houdini, because quick as a flash that suet holder was popped open by a combination of its beak and foot. Off it flew with the whole suet cake in its bill! Aha! So that’s the culprit, and a very adept one at that.

My solution was to use an upside down type woodpecker holder, and I had no more larceny incidents. Birds never cease to amaze me with their abilities and skills.

As a special treat from time to time I have set out bread cubes coated with bacon drippings. I melt the bacon drippings over low heat and stir in small pieces of day old bread. These I add to my tray feeder in the middle of winter, to the absolute delight of my backyard birds. This treat is soon gone, but I know I have helped my little friends stay warm and generate much needed heat and energy to help them survive bitter cold temperatures.

Suet provides that high energy fat birds need to stay healthy and active all winter long. Do your birds a favor and add it to their feeding station. You won’t be sorry!