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 bird seed feeder. Along with your familiar seed-eating birds, suet attracts insect-eating bluebirds, Brown Creepers, catbirds, flickers, kinglets, mockingbirds, shrikes, tanagers, warblers, White-winged Crossbills and wrens, among other birds.
When you use suet to attract birds, remember some of these larger birds are not able to cling as well as smaller woodpeckers and chickadees. While a suet basket is fine for clinging birds, some birds–like mockingbirds and tanagers–do better with a feeder they can land on to eat for better balance. You can set suet out on a hanging platform feeder or a ground platform feeder 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 or suet plugs to fill a suet log feeder. 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.
Suet is a staple food for all birds and it’s 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 birds with suet in the spring and you’ll enjoy your backyard all summer long with fewer bugs!
What kind of suet do you feed your birds? What kind of suet feeder do you use? Join the conversation in the comments. Happy Birding!