Opus bird feeders | Winter Bird Feeders

The Best Winter Bird Feeders - Suet Feeders
Of course winter is a tough time for birds. For birds looking for berries, most plants have lost those long ago. Flying insects and crawling grubs are hidden safely away the winter months, and if there was some source of food out that a bird might eat much of the time it is hidden under a several inches of snow.

Traditionally one of the best feeders for the winter bird population is a suet bird feeder, as opposed to a more conventional seed hopper or tube feeder.

Suet is a popular choice because it has several advantages for use in the winter. It holds up to cold weather well. At temperatures above 70 degrees F it will melt, so don't leave it out year round. Since it has a large percentage of fat it has a lot of calories, and is usually mixed with other high energy foods like peanuts for additional protein to give an additional energy boost. Finally suet cakes will last for quite a while so you don't need to refill the feeder too often.

Suet was used many years ago by the settlers in America. It comes from raw beef or mutton fat, it's often made from the fat found around the loins and kidneys. Our ancestors found many uses for it like candle-making. To make suet the fat is rendered in a process where the fat is heated to produce a wax like material. Once it cools slightly this wax like material is shaped and stored like soap.

Once you have the raw suet, to make it usable in a feeder it is usually prepared in a block similar in shape and size to a sandwich. To increase the protein in the food it's common to add other ingredients like cracked peanuts or seeds which are mixed in before the suet solidifies so they are distributed through the food block. There are many types of commercially available suet blocks. There are also many web sites featuring suet recipes targeting different bird species if you are inclined to make your own


Usually a suet feeder looks like of a small wire cage feeder where the suet block is placed. This can be hung from a tree or simply nailed to the trunk of a tree. Another common favorite is a traditional bird hopper feeder that also has suet cages on the sides.

What type of birds can you help feed with a suet feeder? Birds that are attracted to suet feeders include woodpeckers, goldfinches, juncos, cardinals, thrushes, jays, bluebirds and wrens. Some folks consider it unfortunate that they will also attract starlings. If you are one that doesn't want to attract starlings try finding a suet bird feeder with only bottom access, since starlings can't hang upside down to feed. Squirrels are another creature attracted to suet feeders than many (including the birds) consider a pest. To keep squirrels out you need to make sure the feeder cant' be accessed by climbing or jumping from a nearby roof or tree. If you still have a problem often using baffles will help keep them away.

Suet bird feeders come in many of styles and shapes. The most common of all the suet feeders are the simple cage feeders. These house the suet in a protective cage that can hang from a tree. For those wanting something more esthetic there are decorative suet feeders. These are often mounted on a pole that can be freestanding in your yard, hopefully safe from your squirrel friends.

While winter is a tough time of year for our feathered friends, with a suet bird feeder you can help the birds in your area come through ready for spring in good health.


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