Birds are always eating to satisfy their constant demand for energy–and fat provides the most concentrated source of calories in a bird’s diet. That translates into energy for flying, keeping warm, nesting, raising young and foraging. No wonder birds crave suet! In fact, you can attract many more birds with suet than you can with bird seed. Suet attracts insect and fruit eaters that won’t come to eat at a seed feeder.
Along with your familiar seed eating birds, suet will attract insect eating bluebirds, catbirds, mockingbirds, tanagers, warblers, kinglets, wrens, shrikes, flickers, brown creepers and white-winged crossbills.
But when offering suet to these larger birds, remember that some of them are not able to cling like woodpeckers and chickadees. A suet basket is fine for clinging birds, but some birds like mockingbirds and tanagers do better with a feeder they can land on to eat. You can set suet out on a platform feeder, or you can situate your basket feeder so it’s within reaching distance of a branch where these birds can perch.
Suet is available in many flavors and varieties. Suet cakes are the most common, but birds will also love suet balls, fed from a suet ball feeder, suet plugs to fill a suet log feeder . Nuts N Bugs is a mix of suet and dried insects, perfect for insect eaters! And you can offer other types of high fat foods that will attract these birds too, such as peanut butter, vegetable shortening, and vegetable based suet pellets.
It’s also important to offer suet and other fats to nesting birds. Baby birds, even the babies of seed-eating parents, can’t digest seeds until they’re older–that’s why parents spend so much time hunting for insects and bugs to feed them. But suet is a highly digestible, nourishing baby food that parents will take back to the nest. And suet is also used by wildlife rehabilitators to feed to orphaned nestlings.
When you offer suet, you’ll not only enjoy having insect and fruit-eating birds in your yard for their beautiful colors and songs, but also because they help keep down insect populations. Attract them with suet in the spring and you’ll enjoy your backyard all summer long with a lot less bugs!
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