December 18, 2013

Suet

Winter is the time to feed the birds. Dependent on reliable food sources like cherry trees, winter berries, and open fields - feeders also provide winter birds with an important food store. Suet in particular can make for good fodder. Most often purchased as a store bought “cake” it is possible to get fresh suet from your butcher. If dealing with a cow’s kidney fat doesn’t sound like a fun family holiday craft idea purchase a metal cage and form fitted suet cake from any hardware, animal feed, or bird store. These cakes are often filled with dried seeds, nuts, or fruit and are easily hung from a tree branch or empty flower pot hanger. Unlike many seeds, suet is less attractive to squirrels and can be left without much worry that a grey, red, or little stripper will clean you out in one sitting. Among the birds that will visit a suet cage are woodpeckers, nuthatches, kinglets, bluebirds, wrens, robins, starlings, and if you’re lucky a brown creeper. Woodpeckers who don’t eat seeds are an exciting addition to the feeder station when suet is provided. Remember suet is animal fat and should only be offered in cold weather when there is no chance of softening or spoiling which is not only disgusting but also a health risk for the birds. Remember too that birds will rely on you as a food source and while November and December is a good time to start feeding it is important that you stay consistent until spring. Serve the fat!

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is an educator, bird watcher, and writer fascinated by the intersections of place, people, nature, and culture. He works for Mass Audubon and lives in the heart of Massachusetts. For questions or comments please contact: alexanderjosephdunn@gmail.com

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