How to Make Suet to Attract Birds to Your Yard
Make a high-fat supplemental treat to bring birds to your yard.
Bring the birds to your yard with a high-calorie treat. Suet is a favorite food for woodpeckers, titmice, nuthatches, wrens, cardinals and chickadees. If you hang a suet feeder in your yard, chances are, at least one of these species will show up. It is fun to watch the birds find and feed on this easy-to-make, high-fat food.
If you like to bake pies and bread, make suet using the leftover lard and dry ingredients. Suet provides a good supplement for birds in the fall and winter since their daily food source is a little scarce this time of year. Suet is also good for the spring and summer.
This recipe from bird researcher and educator, Martha Sargent, is tried and true and has been shared many times by birders across the country. Her homemade suet has been referred to "Martha's Marvelous Suet" as well as "Martha's Super Suet." I gave Martha a phone call to ask: Just what is so super about this recipe, and how did she come up with the perfect ratio of fat to the dry ingredients? She laughed and said, “By gosh and by golly!” She continued, “I came up with the perfect recipe the same way anybody comes up with a good recipe, and there were lots of hits and misses. Too much fat left the suet too drippy and it didn’t hold up to the summer heat. And too little, well, I just had to keep refining it.”
Martha’s Super Suet:
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 cup lard
- 2 cups quick oats
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
Melt the lard and peanut butter together in a pot over low heat and blend.
Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
Most folks pour the mixture into a pan so that they can cut the suet into one-inch thick blocks, but I like forming the suet into balls to fit into a handmade, coiled feeder. Whichever form you choose, place the suet in the freezer to set up. After you remove it from the freezer, if necessary, slice the suet into blocks for your wire cage feeder. In a container, place the balls or blocks in layers between wax paper to store in the freezer. They will keep for months.
Martha slices her suet into long strips for a peanut feeder, a long tubular feeder made of wire mesh. “That way, the bigger birds can’t carry it off.” Martha offers additional advice, “Never add seeds to the mix. You would just be wasting money by adding anything extra.”
You can use a traditional square cage feeder, a peanut feeder, or make your own feeder. To make a coil feeder, I used a piece of copper found in a neighbor’s trash pile. I formed the coil by wrapping the copper tightly around different sized dowels. I left the end loosely coiled to serve as a perch for the birds.
An extra super tip: The birds will find the feeder quickly if you spread a bit of peanut butter onto the feeder.