I love watching the birds, but there’s an advantage for gardeners to attract them now. They’ll stick around the food source in the spring and will hunt lots of bad bugs, which makes our gardening life easier. The main feed I use is black oil sunflower seeds. The titmouse above grabbed a seed out of the feeder, below it has opened the seed and is just about to enjoy the heart. You can buy seeds with just the heart too.
But during the winter, I always like to give them something else to boost their energy. Suet is something that helps them thrive during the hardest part of winter. I love these little suet nuts that Cole’s offers, they also make a suet called Hot Meats filled with hot pepper. The squirrels won’t touch it, and the birds can’t taste the pepper. The company makes my favorite varieties of bird seed and suet and it’s easy to find in your area by using this link. If you can’t physically block squirrels and chipmunks from the feeder, they have a whole line of feed laced with hot pepper.
They also have a liquid hot pepper to apply to seed you buy in bulk. One year I did a segment on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live and Jon Burnett thought it would be funny to taste some. Man was he sorry, live on the air he was dying! I told him not to try it. I just put out one of the Hot Meat suet cakes and forgot to wash my hands. I rubbed my eyes and now I was the one who was sorry. I feed the squirrels at their own feeder.
I also enjoy making my own suet. I usually make enough to last most of the winter and keep it in the freezer. Suet is a type of fat from a certain part of a cow; you can find it at the meat counter of the grocery store. If you don’t see it, just ask they’ll get you some.
Here’s everything you need to know about suet including lots of recipes for making your own.
This is one of my favorites-
1 cup suet
1 cup peanut butter
3 cups corn meal
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Melt the suet in a saucepan at low heat; add the peanut butter while stirring until it’s blended with the suet. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
Anything that a bird likes can be added to the recipe. If I have raisins or peanuts, I’ll put them in too.
I use hamburger patty makers to form the suet cakes and also pack it into big pine cones and hang them from the feeder.
Bringing birds into the yard is not only fun, it will help you garden next spring.