As loyal 10,000 Birds readers know I love visiting my folks’ house. Not just for their company, which is wonderful, but also to catch up on the birds visiting their marvelous array of feeders which I lack in my urban apartment complex. One of the things that keep the birds (and the squirrels) coming back is my Mom’s delicious homemade suet. Well, delicious for critters anyway, but maybe not-so-much for people…
See, it seems that my younger brother’s fiancée, Shannon, had a hankering for a late night snack recently. She went into the garage (where my family stores stuff they want to keep fresh during the cold months, it has never been used for storing a car) and found a pan of peanut butter fudge with chocolate chips in it. Talk about enticing! She broke off a nice chunk and was she ever surprised when she realized it was not actually fudge but peanut butter suet. What she thought in the dim light of the garage were chocolate chips were actually sunflower seeds. So, if you decide to make your own suet either label it clearly or put it somewhere where food is not normally stored.
It does look tasty though, doesn’t it?
I wish I could say that the suet recipe is a long-held family secret, passed down through generations of bird watchers since time immemorial so I will (let’s just all pretend that my mom never googled suet and tried and modified the recipes she found until she stuck with this one). I promise it will work as well as Julie Zickefoose’s famous recipe.
Homemade Peanut Butter Suet
- Melt 1 cup shortening. Add 16-20 ounces of crunchy peanut butter. Heat and stir until melted.
- Add 1 cup of raisins, 1 cup of black oil sunflower seeds, 6 cups of cornmeal and 4 cups of flour.
- Spoon into a 13X9 pan. Chill until it is hard. Cut into chunks for suet feeders (or stuff into cracks and crevices in logs).
People might not like it, but do birds?
White-breasted Nuthatch getting the last bits
So go ahead, make some suet, the birds (and squirrels) will thank you and it makes a great prank to feed it to people!
But, Corey, I have to know. What was her verdict?
Well, the words that came from her mouth (after the suet left at high velocity) probably would have made a sailor blush…so I guess suet is for the birds!
amazing post and everyone should be making this stuff for our birdies! Peanut Butter Suet and of course Zick Dough!
If you enjoy making “fudge” for the birds, by all means go for it, but it isn’t necessary to go to all that trouble. Peanut butter straight from the jar works just as well and is a lot easier. Birds love it just the same. Fore details see “Winter bird feeding,” http://wildgardeners.blogspot.com/2007/12/winter-bird-feeding.html
By the way, mixing different types of bird food together (for instance, putting raisins and seeds in their suet) just seems to lead to more mess around the feeders. Birds pick through mixed foods, throwing what they don’t want on the ground.
Wild Flora: Never thought about using straight peanut butter. I will say that my folks do not have to worry about any mess at the feeders: the birds scarf every bit down and if they drop anything the squirrels are all over it!
About mess under the feeders … I know it seems as though all the food gets eaten right away, but depending on how fastidious you want to be (and I hasten to note that I am not going to win any cleanliness awards myself) you might want to remember that the area under a feeder contains a lot of bird droppings. When you add to that the concern that birds can carry salmonella, and that sick birds may be attracted to feeders, there may be reason to try to keep food from falling to the ground under a feeder, even if it only stays there a few seconds. Personally I find it easier and at least a bit tidier to feed just one type of food per feeder (peanut butter in the suet feeder and black oil sunflower seed in the Droll Yankees hanging feeder) and throw the kind of food ground-feeding birds like (millet mostly) on the driveway well away from the hanging feeders.
FYI, how much mess you get under the feeders depends on many things including the type of birds that visit. Finches tend to sit at the feeder to eat, so they tend to be messy. Chickadees and nuthatches fly away to eat, so they tend to be pretty tidy.
The birds have been eating more peanut butter suet now than in the winter time, and early spring. I suppose that their are simply more birds in the area now. Is it unsafe to continue feeding them the suet; I read that only in the winter due to the high fat content, and the potential for gout could occur if feeding later in the spring… Please advise? I will try your recipe. My most common visitor at the suet is the European Starling, and then in various visits; blue birds, mocking birds, downy woodpeckers… I would enjoy feeding them all summer long, but I don’t want to endager them by doing so. Right now they are consuming a block of suet per day… so I have to learn how to make it.
@Michael: Once the winter is over there is no need to feed the birds such a large amount of peanut butter suet; it can be unhealthy in such large quantities. Check out Julie Zickefoose’s recent post here on a more healthy alternative. I would also limit the amount being provided.
It’s great you are feeding the birds but you don’t want to “kill them with kindness!”
great recipe took about 15-20 minutes to make only made half of what it called for , its just getting to be spring time here in Maine so this will be my only batch until winter comes again, Perfect suet though thanks and so easy to make
My “millions” garden birds and their friends simply LOVE this recipe, and seem so dissapointed when its finished (while I am away.
Thanks so much.
Any specisl recipec for South African Birds?
General as well as migratory, do you require the names?