Suet is probably the most important food you can offer your birds in winter. As we all know by now, birds need quality, high-calorie food all year long. In summer when food is abundant, birds also scavenge fat from animal sources remaining in the woods. In winter, birds can seek out seeds and berries that have remained on plants and trees, but finding sources of fat under a blanket of snow is almost impossible at a time when birds need this food the most.
Feeding suet in winter is easy. Since it stays frozen most of the time, you don’t have to worry about it going bad, and birds won’t have any trouble eating it. In fact you can stock up on suet and keep it in your freezer until ready to use.
The word suet technically means beef fat, but now denotes any type of fat, usually mixed with seeds, peanuts, fruit or nuts. Commercial suet is usually purchased as cakes which are offered on a platform feeder or in a hanging suet basket. However, suet balls are now available which can be fed on a platform or piled into a suet ball feeder. Another handy way to feed suet is with suet plugs. These can be used to fill suet log feeders which woodpeckers love!
For even more convenience, try purchasing suet already in it’s own container. All you have to do is hang it! And another very convenient way to serve suet is by purchasing suet pellets. These can even be mixed with seed in your tube feeders.
What flavors should you buy? Woodpeckers and nuthatches are particularly fond of any suet that contains peanuts or peanut butter. To please your cardinals, offer suet with berries or fruit. Chickadees and titmice will love suet containing sunflower chips and tree nuts. If squirrels are trying to eat your suet, try cakes containing hot pepper. But no matter what flavor of suet you choose, you can be sure you’ll have lots of visitors at your suet feeders!