Suet Facts and Tips

If you are like many people, backyard birding is a hobby for you whether you actively encourage visits from birds or not. One way to attract birds is to put out suet -- beef fat -- and watch the crowds stop by and devour the treat. Suet is an inexpensive food source and should become part of your bird feeding program if you desire to attract a steady flow of birds.

Exactly what is suet? In short, it is beef fat. Yes, birds enjoy eating other a point. Most suet sold in stores or made at home contains this fat plus other important bird attracting ingredients including: peanuts, berries, shelled nuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, millet, corn, and bread crumbs.

Suet can be purchased in small blocks and placed in a suet feeder or you can make it at home. No, I won't take the time to share a "recipe" here with you, but some birders enjoy making the home grown variety.

You may find that purchasing a block and placing it in a suet feeder is your style. If so, prices can vary widely from about one dollar for a single block to nearly two dollars each. I have discovered that one of the local discount retailers sells suet in bulk; I paid eight dollars for a box of twelve, which translates to less than seventy cents per block.

Many people will tell you that suet should only be placed outside when temperatures are seventy degrees or lower. From personal experience I have learned that some suet can remain out regardless how hot it can get. Here in North Carolina, we have temperatures in the nineties for three to four months straight; birds have been flocking to the suet feeder without fail all summer long. Recommendation: the suet I put out contains sunflower seeds, millet, and corn. I would not put out suet with berries during summer months as it will spoil quickly.

So, how do you keep the squirrels at bay? Besides investing in a pricey suet feeder with high tech security functions, I have found a low cost way that may work for you. Specifically, you will need an "S" shaped hook that can be placed on your home's rain gutter. Hook one side to the gutter and then place the suet holder [with suet inside] on the end sticking out [you may need a second hook on the suet holder itself to make it work].

This method works for me because the squirrels hate walking on my steep roof to reach the suet. Should a squirrel actually get on the roof, they would have to bend over backwards to reach the suet and then by holding onto loose fitting gutter shields. Of course, this won't work for everyone, but it does for me. Experiment. You will find a way!

Once your suet is in place, birds should stop by within the hour. Birds observed at our feeder include: nuthatches, thrushes, cardinals, chickadess, blue jays, sparrows, wrens, flickers, woodpeckers, goldfinches, and robins. Yes, don't let anyone kid you: robins will eat suet!

You can purchase a new suet holder for just a few dollars at mostly any retail store. Our visitors go through about two and one half cases per year, so for less than twenty five dollars annually I am able to set out suet and attract a wide variety of our flying friends. Not many hobbies can be as cost effective as that!

Matthew Keegan is The Article Writer who enjoys birding in his spare time. Please visit his high performing site at for samples of some of his work.

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