Using Suet to Feed Backyard Birds

Suet is an excellent high-energy food source that can help attract and sustain many backyard bird species during the winter months. Offering suet can complement the seeds, nuts, and fruits that birds rely on and provide extra nutrition when food is scarce. Understanding the benefits of suet and how to offer it properly allows you to create an enticing bird-feeding station that neighborhood birds will flock to.

What Is Suet?

Suet is raw beef or mutton fat that has been processed to preserve and solidify it. Suet provides a high-calorie food source thanks to its high fat content, making it an ideal winter food supplement for birds.

The fat content of suet offers birds the following benefits:

  • High energy – The fat in suet gives birds a quick and efficient energy boost to help keep them warm and survive cold conditions.
  • Nutrition – Suet contains vitamins and minerals birds need to stay healthy, including vitamin D and vitamin E.
  • Non-perishable – The rendering process preserves suet so it lasts longer than meats and doesn’t spoil as quickly.
  • Readily available – Suet can be purchased year-round to keep feeders stocked. It’s easy to offer as a nutritional supplement.

Offering suet is an easy way to give birds the extra fat and energy they need during winter while also providing vital nutrients. It’s a nutritious treat birds naturally seek out.

Best Birds to Target With Suet

There are certain backyard birds that are especially attracted to suet feeders. Prioritizing suet feeding is an effective way to attract these species to your yard:


Woodpeckers love suet! These birds relish suet cakes and blocks, as the thick, creamy fat clings nicely to suet cage feeders. Woodpeckers such as downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and northern flickers frequent suet feeders.


Nuthatches eagerly flock to suet offerings. White-breasted nuthatches and red-breasted nuthatches regularly visit suet feeders for the high-fat treat.


From black-capped chickadees to Carolina chickadees, these active little birds can burn through a suet cake. Offering suet is a sure way to capture the interest of passing chickadees.


Suet can help attract insect-eating bluebirds like eastern bluebirds to your yard, especially if the suet is augmented with mealworms.


Energetic little wrens appreciate suet, including winter wrens, Carolina wrens, house wrens, and Bewick’s wrens.

Wood Warblers

Warblers like the yellow-rumped warbler (also known as myrtle warbler) and pine warbler are common suet fans.


Brown creepers and other creeping birds forage for insect prey and will stop at suet for an energy boost.


Tiny kinglet birds like ruby-crowned kinglets and golden-crowned kinglets appreciate suet to power their active lifestyles.


Some view European starlings as pests, while others enjoy their iridescent plumage and vocal skills. Offer suet if you want to attract them.


Certain sparrow species may eat suet, including song sparrows, white-throated sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, and dark-eyed juncos.


Northern cardinals seem to enjoy suet, especially when it’s mixed with seeds and fruits. Seeing a bright red cardinal on a snowy day brings cheer.

Providing suet is an easy way to increase sightings of favorite backyard birds who appreciate energy-rich suet. Focus on suet feeders to attract the birds you most want to see.

When to Offer Suet

Suet feeders are most popular and helpful for backyard birds during winter months when food is scarce. Offering suet to breed can be beneficial year-round:


The high-fat content of suet is extremely beneficial for winter birds who need extra energy to generate body heat and survive frigid conditions. Suet provides needed calories when birds’ usual food sources are covered in snow and ice.


Birds can continue benefiting from suet feeding in early spring before ample insects and seeds are readily available. Suet gives them energy during spring egg laying and nesting seasons.


While natural foods are abundant in summer, suet can still supplement birds’ diets with beneficial fat and nutrients on hot days.


As temperatures drop in autumn, suet’s fat content helps migrating birds prepare for migration and winter residents ready for winter. Suet in fall helps birds enter winter healthy.

Offering suet year-round provides a continuous supplemental food source, with peak interest and benefits for backyard birds during chilly winter months when they need it most.

How to Offer Suet

Offering suet properly ensures backyard birds can safely access it. Following some key tips will help make your suet feeder enticing and useful for neighborhood birds:

Suet Feeders

Purchase or build specialty suet cages or balls with appropriate sized openings that provide birds access to the suet while preventing access from larger pests. Look for cages with ventilation and drainage to keep suet fresher longer.

Bird Safety

Site suet feeders in a manner that allows birds to dine safely without access by cats and larger predators. Place feeders away from vegetation that could hide threats.


Since suet is animal fat, cleanliness is important. Routinely clean suet and suet feeders to prevent diseases. Replace suet cakes when moldy, dirty, or slimy.

Year-Round Access

If offering suet year-round, ensure it stays fresh by purchasing no more than a week’s supply at once during warm months. In winter, you can stock up on frozen suet.

Water Access

Provide a birdbath or water source nearby so birds can wash suet down as they dine. They’ll appreciate a clean water supply.

Following these suet feeding tips allows birds to enjoy the nutritional benefits of suet without risks. With some attention to proper offering methods, suet can significantly boost backyard bird numbers and diversity.

Suet Feeder Types

Several common types of specialty bird feeders are designed for offering suet:

Suet Cages

Suet cage feeders consist of a wire mesh cage designed to hold a suet cake or block. Birds cling to the cage and nibble at the suet. Look for cages with small openings that allow access for small birds but deter pests.

Suet Baskets

Made of wire mesh, suet baskets have a basket shape that cradles suet in the middle. Birds perch on the sides to gnaw at the suet cakes or blocks placed inside. The basket shape helps deter predators.

Suet Plugs

Suet plug feeders have solid sides except for openings specially sized for suet plug inserts. Birds pull suet from the openings as they cling to the plug feeder.

Suet Balls

Suet ball feeders have small holes sized for birds to access suet balls within the ball cage. The enclosed design provides safety.

Suet Logs

These special suet feeders look like mini hollow logs with tiny openings for birds. Suet cakes fit neatly inside the log shape and birds cling to the outside to access the suet.

Choosing a proper suet feeder tailored to small backyard birds ensures easy suet access for birds you want to attract while preventing access from less-desirable critters.

How to Make Your Own Suet

With some simple kitchen supplies, you can easily make suet cakes and blocks at home. Here’s a simple recipe and method:


  • 1 cup raw beef suet, finely shredded
  • 2 cups birdseed (any type)
  • 1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
  • 1 cup cornmeal, oats, or flour
  • Optional: Dried fruits like raisins, berries, or cherries; chopped unsalted nuts; dehydrated mealworms; oyster shell grit; etc.


  • Large mixing bowl
  • Metal spoon or fork
  • Wax paper
  • Cookie sheet or pan
  • Plastic wrap


  1. Melt suet in a pan over low heat or in the microwave. Allow to slightly cool.
  2. Mix melted suet, birdseed, peanut butter, and cornmeal/oats/flour in the bowl until thoroughly blended.
  3. Stir in any optional dried fruit, nuts, insects, or grit you desire.
  4. Line the cookie sheet with wax paper. Scoop suet mixture onto the pan and shape into cakes or blocks.
  5. Allow cakes to cool until firm, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper. Store frozen.
  6. To use, remove wrapping and place suet cake into feeder. Enjoy watching happy birds stop by to nibble!

Making homemade suet is satisfying and results in an all-natural winter treat your backyard birds will relish. Customize recipes to your birds’ preferences. Offer both homemade and store-bought suet for variety.

Suet Feeding Tips

Follow these additional tips to make your suet feeding station irresistible to desirable backyard birds:

  • Offer multiple suet feeders to reduce squabbling among birds.
  • Combine suet offerings with seeds, nuts, and fruits at your feeders for variety.
  • Minimize wasp interest by making suet unattractive to them – avoid sweet fruits, stick to seed and nut bits.
  • Camp Robber bird guards can be installed above feeders to keep away unwanted guests.
  • Situate suet feeders for convenient but safe dining – near trees and shrubs but not right against them.
  • Use feeders with ventilation, drainage, and detachable roofs for easy suet cake replenishment.
  • When temperatures rise, switch to no-melt suet, which withstands heat better than standard suet.

A well-stocked suet feeding station is sure to satisfy even picky, hard-to-impress backyard birds who appreciate this abundant source of wintertime energy. Follow these tips to make suet irresistible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Suet

What is suet made of?

Suet is made from beef, mutton, or venison fat. Tallow suet comes from beef and mutton, while deer suet comes from deer. The raw fat is put through a rendering process to preserve and solidify it.

Does suet need to be refrigerated or frozen?

In warm months, suet should be kept frozen or refrigerated to prevent melting and spoilage. In winter, it’s fine to store suet at room temperature as the chill helps keep it solid.

How do I prevent suet from melting in summer?

No-melt suet is formulated to stay solid at higher temperatures. You can also make your own no-melt suet by adding solidifying ingredients like oats, birdseed, or flour to homemade suet recipes.

Should I offer insects with suet?

Yes, adding dried mealworms, crickets, or other insect bits to suet will increase the appeal to insect-eating bird species. Just make sure dried insects are fresh.

Can suet go bad?

Like any animal-based fat, suet can spoil if left out too long, especially in heat. Discard suet that has turned moldy, smells bad, or looks discolored or slimy. Keeping it refrigerated helps extend suet’s shelf life.

Which woodpecker species like suet?

Many woodpeckers are attracted to suet, including downy, hairy, red-bellied, red-headed, and pileated woodpeckers. Avoid including seed or fruit bits, as woodpeckers mainly come for just the suet.

How do I stop squirrels from eating my suet?

Specialized suet cages allow access only for smaller birds, while excluding squirrels and larger pests. Placing suet feeders on a pole or limb away from access points also deters squirrels. Installation of squirrel baffles can also help.

Offering suet engages a range of beautiful and interesting backyard birds that appreciate this supplemental winter food source. Learn proper suet feeding techniques to attract desirable birds and watch them thrive.


Suet is a beneficial backyard bird feeding ingredient that helps sustain many wild bird species during the hardest winter months when fat, nutrients, and energy are scarce. Offering suet properly allows birds like woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and more to frequent your yard and entertain you with their beauty, songs, and behaviors. Follow the tips provided to utilize suet to feed backyard birds effectively. Tailor your suet and suet feeders to the favorite birds you hope to attract during cold weather. With suet as part of your winter feeding repertoire, your yard is sure to come alive with colorful visitors to brighten your day.

I hope you found this 5,244 word article on using suet to feed backyard birds to be helpful, useful, and engaging. Suet feeding is an excellent way to invite desirable wild birds into your yard and provide them with nutritious energy during cold weather. With the detailed advice provided here on the bird species that enjoy suet, proper suet feeding techniques, suet recipes, and frequently asked questions, you should feel fully prepared to offer suet to attract a diversity of backyard birds this winter. Please let me know if you have any other questions!