Say it: sue it.
It is the backyard bird feeder’s secret ingredient.
No matter how much seed you put out, you’ll still not attract the variety of species that you can with suet, the processed energy rich fat deposited around beef kidney. You won’t get the numbers you do at your feeder, suet cakes are small. One chickadee, nuthatch, Blue Jay, or mockingbird at a time is the norm. But suet will also attract birds that shun seed. Our Carolina Wrens love the stuff. One cold winter we nursed a Ruby-crowned Kinglet toward spring by insuring that it’s life sustaining suet cake was always available. I’ve had orioles feed on the stuff, yes in winter. And woodpeckers prize it over all other food stuff.
How do I know the kinglet survived? Because the next winter a kinglet showed up, picking up, literally, where he left off. My partiality to suet goes back to childhood, when I would walk to the butcher shop on Rt 10 in Whippany and request a donation of fat trimmings for the birds. The genial gentleman with the blood stained apron and meat cleaver tempered hands always complied. In time I got to offering him a nickle for a paper bag of fat trimmings, which he accepted, seeming to understand it was a point of pride for me to offer something in return for his generosity.
Beef fat goes rancid faster than processed suet, but the birds didn’t mind. Be aware, suet also attracts other meat hungry creatures. Raccoons quickly learn how to open the doors of suet cake feeders and Red squirrels have been known to clean out a feeder in day.
Yet and still, and unless Black Bears are a nuisance in your yard, suet cake will add a new colorful dimension to your winter bird feeding adventure.
Our visitor centers carry a large selection of bird seed – give them a call today to see what is available for pick-up or what is recommended for your feeders
Cape May Bird Observatory
Nature Center of Cape May
Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary
NJ Audubon Birding Ambassador
Author Birds of Prey and coauthor Hawks in Flight