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Bird Lover's Suet Recipe Keeps the Birds Coming Back for More

February 12, 2019 | STORY BY MELANIE REKOLA

Easy DIY recipe to for suet that birds will love and enjoy all year-round.

OUR HOMES London Winter 2018-2019A version of this article originally appeared in OUR HOMES Winter 2018-2019. 

Whether your feathered friends are seasonal migrants or year-round residents, augmenting their diets with high-quality calories found in suet will help them survive and thrive. Certified horticulturist and landscape designer Melanie Rekola guides us how.
 
Making homemade suet is about as easy as making hummingbird nectar. It’s also more rewarding, affordable and often healthier than purchasing commercially made cakes, bells or blocks. Plus, making suet at home allows you to customize the ingredients to appeal to the specific birds in your yard as well as those you wish to attract. 
 
TIP: To avoid attracting unwanted rodents, only put out enough suet for birds to consume in one day. This will also help the suet stay fresh.
 
When it comes to making suet, the more natural, organic and local the food ingredients are, the healthier the results are for the birds. A homemade suet blend is also free from nasty preservatives and fillers. Suet recipes need not be complicated in order to attract a range of hungry fowl.
 

SIMPLE SUET RECIPE

 
1 cup rendered tallow (DIY below or purchase) 
1 cup chunky organic nut or seed butter of choice
1/2 cup wheat or quinoa flour
 

DIRECTIONS

 
Start with rendered tallow. Make your own (how-to below) or purchase plain suet cakes or chunks from a wild bird supply store, garden centre, butcher shop or pet store. These cakes can be used as-is or can be melted down and used in more specialized suet recipes. 
 
To render your own tallow, simply save meat fat leftover from cooking (save in a container in the freezer). Once you have saved 1 cup or enough to make the batch size of your choice, just add a bit of water and let it simmer on the stove for a few hours until it turns a golden brown. Strain the liquid fat with cheesecloth to remove any contaminants and the resulting liquid will be beef tallow. Use it right away or store in the fridge or freezer.
 
Melt the suet and nut butter together until they are smooth and liquid.
 
Add the flour, mixing well. Allow the mixture to cool slightly to thicken, then pour it into moulds, containers, muffin liners, plastic wrap or foil as needed for desired shape.
 
Refrigerate or freeze suet until it is firm and ready to use. Extra suet may be kept frozen until needed.

MAKE IT MORE TEMPTING

 
While a simple bird suet recipe is a great starting point, adding other ingredients to the mixture before it cools will make it more tempting to birds. Through experimentation you’ll discover what your local birds find the most appetizing.
 
These customizable ingredients include:
 
• Organic and unsalted/unseasoned/raw chopped nuts of choice
 
• Sunflower seed chips or other shelled seeds (many birds cannot extract the seeds encased with shells once fat is introduced).
 
• Organic dried fruit and berries
 
• Mealworms or crickets (my home bird populace goes crazy for these!)
 
Suet can be moulded into all sorts of interesting shapes leaving lots of room for personal creativity in your own bird buffet offerings.
 
Given my personal affinity toward natural Christmas décor, my favourite way to display suet is by using a large pine cone that I run a stick through the middle of and attach with twine (the stick acts as a perch). I then smush the suet mixture on and into the pine cone and freeze it to set. I add a pretty double twine and ribbon combo to the top of the pine cone for hanging and voila, it’s a gorgeous, natural and edible outdoor ornament. Bring on the birds!

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