Suet is basically animal fat. Birds need fat as their metabolisms are so fast, they need to replenish their energy quite often. Although suet can be used year round, it is especially important in the winter months when insects are not as readily available.
Suet mainly attracts nuthatches, woodpeckers, wrens, titmice, creepers, kinglets, chickadees, thrashers, cardinals, as well as bluebirds.
Suet is commonly found in pet stores and your local bird store will likely carry it as well. The most common form is a small square suet cake, although suet can also be found in the form of balls or logs. There are all types of feeders to accommodate these types of suet. You can also put it in a mesh bag or simply rub it into the tree.
I recommend placing the suet close to a tree trunk. This is because the birds that like suet are cling feeders (they cling to trees in search of insects). So, by placing it near the tree, this enables the birds to find it easier.
Of course, you may choose to make your own suet as well. Below are four suet recipes that the birds seem to like.
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups shortening
2 cups flour
6 cups cornmeal
Melt peanut butter and shortening in a large pot. Stir in four and cornmeal. Turn dough onto a waxed paper lined 13x9" pan. Cut into rectangles for use in a suet feeder. Suet can be stored in a freezer.
3 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons baking powder
2/3 cup oil
3 1/2 cups soy milk
1 cup nuts
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
Mix together the cornmeal, flour, and baking soda. Whisk in the oil
and soy milk. Stir in nuts and cayenne. Pour into an oiled 13x9x2"
pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool. Cut
into 6 suet feeder sized pieces. Suet can be stored in a freezer
Suet From Leftovers
1 lb lard (not Crisco or shortening)*
1/2 - 1 Cup peanut butter
Approx 1/2 loaf of bread, or equivalent bread products such as donuts, plain cake, buns, rolls etc.
1/2 Cup flour
1/2 Cup cornmeal
1 Cup sugar
1 finely diced apple, or other fruit **
(raisins, blueberries, etc)
1/2 Cup pecans (optional
*beef fat can also be used
Gather wild cherries and elderberries in season, freeze and use in the recipe later.
Melt the lard and peanut butter over low heat. Mix flour, cornmeal and sugar and stir in. Add enough bread crumbs to absorb all liquid. Add fruit and nuts as desired.
Pour into a 9 x 5" bread pan and keep refrigerated.
No Melt Suet
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup suet or lard
2 cups "quick cook" oats, (I'm sure any will do)
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup white flour
Melt lard and peanut butter.
Stir in other ingredients. If it seems runny, add more flour.
Fill small plastic margarine containers about 1/2 full, then freeze.
Remove from container; wrap, keep in freezer.