Tuesday, December 31, 2013

DIY Giant Sugar Pinecone Suet Feeder

I've made winter bird-feeders by covering the pinecones from the White Pines of my property with suet for years. It makes a cheap - natural looking - suet feeder that can be reused several times. But... the ultimate pinecone suet feeder comes from loading a pinecone from a California Giant Sugar Pine!

Carolina Chickadee
If this isn't a native tree to your area, you can occasionally find these pinecones at craft or floral stores or (as I did) order them from ebay. Expect to pay around $4 - $6 per cone, but they hold-up well through several uses and it takes a couple of weeks for the birds to finish off all the suet these pinecones can hold.

Start with a basic suet recipe:

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

Male Downy Woodpecker ~ Tufted Titmouse
Allow the mixture to cool until it slightly holds together. Wearing gloves - push the suet into one side of the pinecone then allow it to harden several minutes in the refrigerator. Add suet to the remaining side and return it to the fridge as before. Finish by pushing the remaining suet into the gaps and bottom of the pinecone. It takes almost the whole recipe to cover one 12" - 16" pinecone... I used what little suet I had left over to cover a couple of pinecones from my White Pine tress.

I used jute twine wrapped around the pinecone a couple of times near the top and again around the stem -  and double knotted. Then I made a loop in the jute for hanging.

Here's a few more ways to offer suet as a food source during the winter:
DIY Suet Feeders
DIY Suet Wreath

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse ~ Dark-eyed Junco

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