Monday, January 28, 2013

DIY Suet Feeders

I'm preparing a class for the Master Gardener chapter that I'm a member of on making bird-feeders utilizing natural sources, recycled materials and re-purposed items. Of course the best bird-feeder is what nature provides: nuts, seeds and fruit from native trees, shrubs and wildflowers (and native insects)... Here's my hand-out for my "bird" talk I give:  Creating a Bird Garden

But - this class is all about creating bird-feeders and I've been trying a few DIY feeders I've found over the Internet. I've been making my own suet for years and I am sure the birds prefer my homemade version over a purchased suet cake... In fact, I've never had a bluebird visit a suet feeder at my property unless it contained my homemade recipe! In addition to coating pine-cones with my suet mixture, I've been experimenting with some other options to offer this food supplement. Here's my recipe and what I've came up with so far...

Suet Recipe
2 cups lard  ~ You can render your own suet from beef fat (it's an all day process), but I prefer purchasing lard, which is pork fat.
2 cups chunky peanut butter
Melt the lard and peanut butter together, then add:
6 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
8 cups birdseed

Suet Log
Pretty much self-explanatory... I took a log, drilled random holes with a 1 inch spade drill bit. Then I drilled a hole in the top and added an eye bolt. I then filled the holes with suet and immediately the birds visited this "natural-looking" feeder...

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Tufted Titmouse

Grapevine Suet Ball
Purchase a grapevine ball from a craft store. Cover it with Glad Press'n Seal Wrap (it's the only wrap that works), pull the twigs apart on one side to make a hole and scoop in suet that has cooled to a "moldable" stage. Add twine or jute to hang the feeder. Refrigerate the ball until harden. Remove the plastic wrap - hang up the feeder - watch the action!
Update: The twigs of the grapevine ball are not strong enough to hold the weight of the suet. In my later version, I added a wire that went through the ball and supported the bottom.

Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay and Downy Woodpecker
Male Downy and Male Hairy Woodpeckers. They are lookalikes until they're side-by-side!

Orange Suet Feeder
Pretty simple... This would be a fun craft to do with children. 
Take an orange - cut it in half - scoop out the inside. Attach twine or jute (I used a wooden skewer to poke a hole and push the jute through). This feeder lasted a couple of days then one disappeared. The next day I discovered the mystery of the missing orange feeder!

Tufted Titmouse

Eastern Gray Squirrel:  the culprit...


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  3. Love this so much - thanks for sharing. How do you store the suet after you make it?

  4. How do you keep squirrels away from any of the birdfeeders? I'd love to make your suet recipe and try these!!

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