Wild bird suet supports important energy needs.

Wild bird suet is important to creatures that visit your feeders.  Feeder birds have a high metabolic rate so seek foods that deliver energy.  Fat provides them with more concentrated caloric intake than other sources of nourishment.  Suet allows them to be active for longer periods.

Gray Catbirds enjoy the no-melt hot pepper suet in this feeder.

What is suet?  Suet is fat from around beef and mutton kidneys.  But suet processed for wild birds is also made from other animal fat sources.  Often other ingredients such as nuts, fruits or insects are added.  The fat is processed and formed to fit standard sizes and shapes for suet feeders.  Manufactured wild bird suet comes in cakes, blocks, plugs, and nuggets / pellets.

Birds that make up most of their diet from insects will be most easily attracted to suet.  But others will follow.

Advantages of wild bird suet:

  • It boosts energy during nesting season.
  • It helps develop fat stores as birds prepare for migration.
  • It substitutes for insects all year around and especially in both summers where insects may not be plentiful in some years and in winter when most insects are not available.
  • In winter time, it provides a valuable store of energy and nutrition increasing survival in bitter cold winter temperatures.

Be cautious when offering suet.

Raw suet can quickly spoil when the air temperature is above freezing. So it's best to not offer it except in cold winter climates.  Although rendering it helps it "keep" better in warm temperatures, it can still get very soft and melt.  This not only makes it messy for humans, but also makes it dangerous for birds because it can coat their feathers.  Birds are unable to effectively clean fat and grease from feathers causing a number of sometimes life-threatening issues for them.

Where to purchase wild bird suet.

Processed suet is available from wild bird feed and supply stores and online.  You may also obtain raw suet from your local butcher.  Ask if beef fat trimmings for suet are available.

Processed suet products are often available in "no melt" varieties that won't make a mess in warm weather.  In any case, offer even no melt suet in a shaded spot in the heat of the year.

You can render suet from your butcher shop to keep it from spoiling quickly in warm weather.  Or better perhaps, store it in your freezer until the weather turns cold.

Where to place suet.

Fat will stain.  Don't offer suet in a place where droppings will get on wood, cement, stone, walks, patios, decks, any place you don't want a stain to appear.  Serve suet so droppings fall on a planted area.  In warm weather, place it in a shady spot.

An attractive nuisance.  Other animals will be easily attracted to suet.  Raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, cats, dogs, rats and bears.  If your suet feeder disappears overnight, you'll know something bigger and stronger than a woodpecker found it.  To help eliminate nuisance animals:

  • place suet where it's out of reach;
  • serve it in specialty wild bird suet feeders with protective wire housing;
  • use physical barriers such as a raccoon baffle;
  • use suet that is laced with hot peppers (birds cannot taste the peppers yet mammals will not tolerate the "heat");
  • use plain, unflavored suet without extra ingredients (like nuts) which attract mammals; or,
  • bring it indoors overnight.

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