Wild Bird Articles

Types of Suet

 Suet is a popular food for numerous backyard birds, and it is excellent to offer birds year-round. 

Suet Shapes

The basic suet cake and most popular size for this type of bird food is about 4.5 inches long and wide, and 1.5 inches deep. This size is designed to fit in most standard cage-style suet feeders, though some feeders are large enough to accommodate multiple cakes. 

 While this type of cake is the most popular, there are many other specialized suet shapes as well. These options include: 

  • Balls: Similar to the density of cakes, but spherical to be stacked in large cages or nets.
  • Plugs: Designed for log-style feeders for a more natural feeding surface for woodpeckers or other clinging birds.
  • Pellets: Small, bite-size pieces of suet in a shape similar to large seeds or nuts. 

Novelty suet shapes are also popular, particularly for holiday gifts, and suet cakes shaped as hearts, wreaths, pine trees, bells, candy canes and other shapes can be found at different times of the year. Softer types of suet may be sold as "butter" or "dough" blends and while they won't fit firmly in a feeder, they are ideal for spreading on trees or posts for clingers to eat. 

Suet Flavors

A plain fat suet cake is perfectly suitable to feed all the birds that eat suet, but there are unique flavors available and may tempt different species of birds depending on what mix-ins are part of the cake. Popular suet flavors include: 

  • Fruit: These cakes are flavored with cherry, blueberry, apple, orange or other fruit flavorings, and typically include small bits of dried fruit in the mix.
  • Insect: Dried flies or mealworms give this suet blend a crunchy appeal that's popular with insect-eating birds.
  • Seeds: Seed-mixed suets are some the most popular types and include black oil sunflower, millet, cracked corn, and safflower seed added into the suet cake.
  • Nuts: Nut-loving birds will appreciate peanut flavoring or suet with whole nuts or nut pieces mixed in, including not only peanuts but also almonds, pecans, and walnuts.
  • Pepper: Hot peeper suet cakes are make to resist feeder pests with sensitive taste buds, such as squirrels or raccoons. These cakes include red pepper flakes, powder or flavoring to add heat to the blend, but birds have a very weak sense of taste and are not bothered by the additions of spice. 

No-Melt Suet

Many suet cake shapes and flavors are available in "no-melt" blends that birders may prefer to use in the summer. While the high fat content of any suet cake will melt somewhat in the hottest weather, these specialized blends have extra mix-ins such as flour or grain meal that lower the fat content so the cake can keep its shape in higher temperatures. No-melt blends are available in many of the same flavors and shapes as regular suet. 

 Choosing the Best Type of Suet

With so many different types of suet to choose from, we understand that it may be challenging to find the right suet for your backyard friends. While most birds will readily eat any type of suet, if your birds seem to stay away from your suet feeders, consider trying one of these…. 

  • Selecting flavors to suit specific birds' preferences, such as nut blends for woodpeckers, or fruit flavors for orioles.
  • Opt for different shapes that fit birds' feeding styles, such as hanging balls or cakes for clingers like chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches.
  • Change to different types of suet feeders to discover which styles your birds prefer. To keep from wasting suet until the birds are eating it regularly, cut cakes in pieces and store the excess in the freezer.

 

Article Credit: http://birding.about.com/od/Foods/a/Types-Of-Suet.htm.

Article is written by Melissa Mayntz Birding/Wild Birds Expert

 

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