Wild Bird Articles

Feeding Suet in Winter

Suet helps birds survive the icy cold winter months with much-needed calories. During the winter, natural food sources become scarce making it difficult for birds to consistently find enough food to eat. That's why providing a steady source of suet over the cold weather months is critical for the survival of the birds in our area.

Attract birds with suet, the high-energy treat

What exactly is suet? Suet is made from animal fat. "Animal fat is easily digested and metabolized by many birds; it's a high-energy food, especially valuable in cold weather," according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website All About Birds.

On a bitter cold winter's night, birds lose up to 10% of their body weight by shivering to stay warm.
Even chickadees-and they're tiny birds to begin with. Once the sun starts to come up, look for birds at your feeders as they replenish the energy and calories they lost overnight.

"Birds have high metabolic rates, so it is not unusual for birds to consume 1/4 to 1/3 their body weight worth of food a day!" according to C&S Products. By providing suet in your yard, you're offering birds a high-energy and highly concentrated source of energy, calories and nutrition to increase their survival during the cold winter months.

Wondering what type of suet to feed? Consider the suet flavor that most appeals to you, chances are birds will like it, too. Suet is available in the form of suet cakes, balls, nuggets, suet plugs, pellets or suet logs.

When to feed suet to your birds

Attract birds to your yard this winter by adding your own suet feeder. Suet feeders come in all shapes and sizes with the purpose of attracting suet-eating birds to provide greater bird variety.

"Once the weather turns cold, it's time to put out suet for your backyard birds," said Rob Ripma, co-founder of the Indiana Young Birders Club. "Larger woodpeckers need a place to put their tail when perched on a feeder," he added, "and will be much more comfortable on a suet feeder with a tail prop."

The "tail prop" is an extended surface area, located toward the bottom of the feeder, where woodpeckers can lean their tail against the flat surface to balance while they feed. This is especially true for Pileated Woodpeckers, since they measure about 19 inches long. If these larger woodpeckers arrived to feed on a standard suet cage, without a tail prop, they could easily flip upside down with their tail above their head! The tail prop encourages woodpeckers of all sizes to visit your suet feeder, which is entertaining to watch from the comfort of your own house.

What birds can you expect to see at your suet feeder?

Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, Wrens, and many others. Many birds prefer eating suet during cold weather when natural food sources are scarce and the icy cold temperatures zap their energy. By offering suet, a naturally high-energy snack, you're providing your birds with the calories they need to survive each bitter cold night.

Article Credit: https://blog.duncraft.com/2018/12/06/feeding-birds-suet-winter/

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