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GardenSMART :: Serving Up Suet Helps Birds Weather Winter

Serving Up Suet Helps Birds Weather Winter

By Coles Wild Bird Products Co.
Photographs courtesy of Coles Wild Bird Products Co.

So you think you know suet? Think again. Today's suet is not the messy, hard-to-manage lump of congealed animal fat that your grandparents had to contend with. Modern suet has gone gourmet, and can be served in convenient suet cakes and suet kibbles loaded with treats that backyard birds adore, like nuts, grains and berries.

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You can even find suet varieties that can thwart "bushy-tailed bullies" by including habanero pepper in the succulent fat. Squirrels love suet too, and can quickly consume a cake that would otherwise feed dozens of birds for days. To discourage squirrels, Cole's Wild Bird Products offers Hot Meats suet cakes, which uses a patented technology tested by scientists at Cornell University, consisting of rendered beef suet, red chili peppers, sunflower meats, corn, and oats. The chili is attractive to birds and distasteful to other animals that might look to make it a meal. Chili plants taste hot to mammals like people, dogs, squirrels, rabbits, etc., while birds cannot taste the heat at all.

As winter approaches, you may need to change some of the foods you offer backyard birds. Suet is an essential source of energy for birds during long, cold winter months. So if you've avoided serving suet in the past or have been unsuccessful at attracting birds with suet, here are some suet secrets to get you on your way this winter:

Fat is your friend

While many species, like robins and sparrows, will migrate south, many stay put, like cardinals and chickadees. These birds rely on high-calorie, high-fat foods, like suet, to help maintain their increased metabolic rate during a season when their normal food sources, such as insects and berries, are scarce. If you want to attract a bounty of birds to your backyard during cold months, fat is your friend.

Birds love suet, the solid fat rendered from beef, venison or vegetables that provides concentrated energy to help birds make it through freezing winter days and nights. Typical suet-eating birds include woodpeckers, bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and nuthatches, but you never know who might show up, like a kinglet or warbler.

Feeding birds through winter can actually improve traffic at your feeder, since many birds will find and stay where there is a reliable food source.

Supplement suet with seed

While birds need suet during winter, they also need a variety of foods that normally constitute their diets as well.

Supplement your suet feeding with plenty of seeds, presented in a variety of feeding styles. Variety and reliability will attract birds and keep them coming back to your yard throughout the year.

One way to cater to birds that love seeds, nuts or berries is to try a suet-seed mix like Cole's Nutberry Suet Blend, which mixes human-grade cherries, apples and blueberry-flavored cranberries, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles and whole kernel sunflower meats into an energy-packed, powerhouse feed.

Cole's suet cakes are offered in an assortment of blends, such as Blue Ribbon, mixing rendered beef suet, sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn, formulated to attract the largest variety of birds. You can also stir things up further by serving some innovative "gourmet style" suet products that are in forms other than traditional cakes. Try Suet Kibbles, which mix berry flavor and dried insects in a convenient, non-messy, kibble form.

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Feed 'em high, feed 'em low

Different species of birds prefer different types of feeders, so supply several styles of feeders arranged around your backyard. You can serve up suet in traditional suet cages, or make it easy and try the Cole's Bountiful Bowl feeder. Its compact, adjustable size lets you offer a wide variety of tasty meals for your feathered friends without a lot of work. It comes with an adjustable dome cover that can be raised or lowered to prevent larger birds and squirrels from getting to the seeds as well as help protect the food from rain or snow. The Bountiful Bowl Feeder is a great starter feeder because it is so easy to fill and hang. It holds virtually any seed, suet product and even cut up fruit.

Be sure to locate feeders out of the wind, positioning them near natural cover and perches like bushes and trees. For ground feeding, provide an area near cover with a clear view of the surroundings.

This winter season boost backyard birds' energy levels and serve up suet. You'll enjoy winter bird watching and the birds will benefit from the extra energy suet provides. For more information on Coles Feed visit



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