Date: June 14th, 2011
1. What is Suet?
Suet is a type of fat from beef that is rendered, i.e., heated then cooled and formed into squares, sold as suet “cakes". Other ingredients such as sunflowers, berries, fruits, seeds or nuts may be added to the suet cakes.
2. Suet is High Energy.
Suet is considered a high energy food for birds because it consists of fat. A gram of fat contains 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates or protein. Thus, birds get more calories when they consume fat vs. the same amount of protein or carbohydrates. Birds need more calories in winter because they spend more energy to keep warm. Suet is an especially good bird food for cold weather feeding, although birds enjoy it any time of year. If offered in summer, keep suet in the shade, to prevent melting. Some suet cakes come as melt-resistant. For example, C&S offers a variety of suet cakes that are of the "no-melt" assortment. C&S No Melt Oriole Delight Suet is a great treat for Orioles in even the hottest of summers.
3. How to Offer
Suet is offered in a suet feeder, a type of plastic coated-wire mesh square container into which the suet cake neatly fits. Suet feeders come singly, doubly, or even with four chambers, handy for offering multiple flavors of suet. Suet feeders with roofs help protect the suet cakes from weather. The Audubon Go Green Suet Bottom Feeder does this and makes you feel good when you purchase it; it is made of 90% recycled plastic!
4. Protect from Squirrels
Suet feeders can be hung from any bird feeder pole, along with regular bird feeders, or suet feeders can be hung from trees and deck hooks. Most birds that eat suet are tree-dwelling, so it helps if you have a wooded habitat nearby. Since gray squirrels will eat suet, the suet feeders must be protected just like your bird feeders. Place a baffle on the bird feeder pole and place the pole at least 12-15 feet or more from any place a squirrel can jump from. If that’s not possible, then protect suet in a squirrel-proof feeder, which has a cage around the suet. Birds can enter the openings in the cage, but a squirrel cannot.
5. Who Likes Suet?
Suet is a magnet for Woodpeckers, such as Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Chickadees, Titmice, White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches will also flock to your yard for suet.
6. Special Visitors
Many other birds can also be enticed to your yard with suet, especially suet with added ingredients like nuts, berries and fruit. Interesting birds like Orioles, Carolina Wrens, Eastern Bluebirds, Brown Creepers and Mockingbirds may come and eat suet.
by Don and Lillian Stokes