Yes I admit it! I have an obsession for birds! I also want to have the coolest bird feeding station in town. Not that the birds care what it looks like. The greedy little buggers would still come if I fed them out of an old rusty soup can. But “I” want it to look COOL. I want it to be made from all repurposed items I have found. Yup, I want junk feeders!
Before I get into the recipe for the homemade suet for the birds I want to show you a new Sunflower Seed Feeder I just put together.
It began as a piece of junk I found while out with a friend visiting a lady on some property outside of town. She had a ton of junk. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the stuff. She was trying to show us her Alpacas and I just kept navigating to her junk piles. Finally she got my attention when she said I could take a couple pieces. SAY WHAT!!!
Well I didn’t want to seem greedy so I only took two pieces. First thing was an old tractor spring. It weighs a ton and I still have not done a thing with it but I wanted it more than anything. It sits at the bottom of the tree in the back yard and the birds hop all over like it was their own little jungle gym. Once in awhile I hose all the bird poop off so it doesn’t look too disgusting. I really was only going to take the one item but the lady insisted I find another piece! I grabbed something that I had no clue as to what it was, but I sure as heck did not want to upset the crazy Alpaca lady!
You can correct me if I am wrong in the photograph below, but I think this is some kind of filter off an old tractor or truck.
I had no plans for it either so it got stuck in the bottom of the tree along with the spring. I never even see it most days. I had thought at one point of turning it into a funky lamp but that got put on the back burner.
Fast forward two years later and I went looking for a feeder specifically for sunflower seeds. I was going to make one from scratch using hardware cloth, but while out at the tree I spied this thing. The holes were a perfect size. I just added some chain, hung it in the tree and within a few hours the birds had it figured out. I felt it needed a couple perches so I dug up a couple big bolts and attached them with some nuts. Within the week it was half empty. Success! Here is a couple photos of the completed feeder. Some days it has four or five birds hanging off it!
Now for the Suet Recipe!
Suet is a great food to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm.
Have you ever priced pre-made suet for birds? It is ridiculous. Besides, I wanted to make sure mine had no preservatives, no sugar and no salt added. This is 100% natural.
In the photo above is everything I added to the suet except I forgot to show that I also added some of their regular bird seed and dried cranberries. If you add dried fruit soak it in water for a few minutes then chop into smaller pieces.
It was so easy anyone can make this. I started by partially melting the lard in a saucepan and once it started to melt I added the peanut butter. You can omit or use less peanut butter if you like but I wanted to give my winter birds some gourmet suet. I will try the same recipe later omitting the peanut butter to see which one the birds preferred. Once it was completely melted I added 2 Tbls. of flour to help bind it but that is a personal choice you can omit that. We have long winters in Canada so I have quite a bit of time to tweek the recipe.
In a separate bowl I mixed together one cup of shelled raw sunflower seeds, one cup of shelled crushed peanuts, one cup of regular bird seed, one cup of dried cranberries and one cup of cornmeal.
Once the lard/peanut butter had cooled a bit I poured it over the dry mixture and mixed it up really good.
I then put the whole thing in the fridge to harden back up. I think the cornmeal would be enough of a binding ingredient that you really do not have to add the flour at all. But I was worried it would fall apart. Once made though I think it would be fine without it.
Next you need to find something to put it in. This was more of a problem than I thought.
I have deer and I am damn sure I do not want to feed those guys suet!
So down to the junk pile I call my basement. There I found a baking tin for little cakes. You could use a muffin tin. I also found a miniature tea kettle. It is for boiling one maybe two cups of water.
With the baking pan I drilled four holes to hang some “S” hooks and hung it outside on a clothes line. I bring it into the shed at night till I figure a way to hang or mount it so the deer can not get it.
Those peanuts you see are just there temporarily to get the birds attention, I took them out after the first day. I also sprinkled some seed on the top to attract them.
With the little tea kettle I drilled 2 holes in it and added a couple washers and drilled it straight into the tree. It is small enough that when it needs cleaning I can just wipe it out with some paper towels then wash it without taking it down. I did use some glue (JB WELD) on the handle to keep it in one position so the birds can use it as a perch.
The Downy Woodpecker did not actually eat any of the suet as she was too busy pecking out all the bugs in the tree but she was too cute not to show her off. I think she liked her reflection in the little tea kettle.
Below is the complete recipe for the Homemade Bird Suet.
I have an update here. After I wrote this post I did not see much action at the new suet feeders so I thought maybe I would try something different. I made a new batch and omitted the flour and peanut butter. Well within a day I seen that the birds were more interested in it. I rolled the other suet in balls and froze them and will try using it again later on in the winter season to see which they prefer and to give them more variety. As you can see I also moved the one tray of suet and mounted it on brackets to attach it to the shed. This keeps the larger birds like the Jays and Woodpeckers from eating the smaller birds suet.
This gal stuck her tongue out at me!