For many, garden bird suet is a regular purchase. It comes in many forms and is a staple of the bird feeding station, but like anything bird food related, there are a few bits and bobs to consider!
So now we’ll answer all the questions you’ve ever had about garden bird suet, and maybe a few that you didn’t.
Let’s start with the obvious…
1. What is suet?
In simple terms, it is the fat found around several organs, namely the kidneys, in animals. In days long gone by, it was regularly used in many baking recipes, such as pies and suet puddings. However now it is used occasionally, and is more well known as a popular bird food.
2. Why do birds like suet?
For homo sapiens, suet has fallen off the menu, but for birds it’s still very much in vogue. The reason? All that saturated fat is an ideal source of energy, which is often in short supply. Especially in cold weather, birds need this energy to survive, and to help them breed. So by putting out garden bird suet, you’re in effect fueling nature!
3. How do I give suet to birds?
There are many ways to give suet to birds. So, to make it easy for you, here’s a little suet guide…
- Fat balls – A ball of suet, often mixed with mealworms, nuts or seeds. Can either be provided in a specific fat ball feeder or simply crushed and put on a bird table.
- Suet cake – Not to be confused with some kind of thematic entrant on Bake Off, this is simply a block of suet, that can again either be provided in a cage-like suet cake feeder, or crushed.
- Suet pellets – Those little bits of white stuff you find in mincemeat? That’s often beef suet, and is very similar to a suet pellet. A small, semi-solid pellet of suet that can be put on any kind of tray like feeder, or in a specialised suet pellet feeder if need be.
- Bird fat butter – A more recent addition to the world of suet, is “peanut butter” style Flutter Butter. Not to be confused with the human equivalent, this is a salt free fatty butter.
- Suet logs – Shaped somewhat like a cocktail sausage, they make perching nice and easy, but are best offered in a specific suet log feeder.
Top tip: Never put out fat balls in netting. If a bird gets trapped in the netting, it can be fatal.
4. When to give suet to birds?
It is most important to offer garden bird suet in the winter months, or when it is cold. This is when food is in short supply, and suet is the best bird food in terms of providing energy. Having said that, more and more people are now putting our bird food all year round, and there is no harm in suet being on offer. In hot weather, suet can melt, so try and find a shady spot on the day of summer we have each year!
5. What garden birds like suet?
Most garden birds are partial to a bit of suet, perhaps appreciating their high energy content. In particular, you’ll see blue tits, coal tits, great tits, long tailed tits, and the ever present starling. Blackbirds like suet too, and if you’re lucky you may even get siskins, redpolls and great spotted woodpeckers.
6. What alternatives are there to suet for birds?
Suet, is for many, considered an alternative to bird peanuts, so in simple terms, nuts are a great high energy feed you can put out for birds anytime. However, other coconut oil or vegetable shortening will provide lots of energy; and a suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.
Top tip: It is very important that you do not put leftover cooking fat or oil out as this is most likely full of seasoning and other juices which can be very harmful to birds.
Before you go
Always keep an eye on whether your suet is being eaten or not. If it is out there for too long, you might get the odd rodent visiting…