Making Bird Suet

Ever since a couple weeks ago when Bode and I visited the Cascades Raptor Center and I put up bird identification posters in his room, Bode has been noticing birds that he sees each day and commenting on them: "I just saw a robin", "That's a crow", and "the male ducks are the ones that look like UO football players" (he's talking about the mallard ducks with their iridescent green heads).
Before he was born, I used to have various bird feeders hanging outside my kitchen and bedroom windows — in the backyard — and I always took pleasure in seeing the birds come and feed. Since then, I moved elsewhere for a brief time, but eventually returned back here to the same house, sans the bird feeders. Such is the nature of moving, things somehow always get lost in the shuffle.
Bode's recent fascination provided me with the impetus to amp up the backyard again with feeders for our feathered friends. I never before had made suet and thought that now was the perfect time.

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup Crisco shortening
  • 2.5 cups cornmeal
  • .5 cup millet
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • .5 cup raisins 

Over a low flame, we melted down the peanut butter and Crisco in a saucepan until they were completely liquid. Bode and I then added the rest of the ingredients incrementally, stirring each time until they were mixed in well. Other kinds of edible grains, seeds or berries can be substituted also (although be smart about it and make sure they are nontoxic to birds! See a list of 10 foods to avoid giving birds here).

After all the ingredients are incorporated, pour mixture into a mold that when ready will fit into a suet cage. I found that a square rubbermade container worked perfectly.

I ended up with more mixture than I intended. Fortunately,  I remembered that I had a collection of pinecones in storage. I found a large-sized one and I tied twine to the top, placed it in a bowl and then coated it with the mixture, using a rubber spatula. I pushed the mix as far down into the cone as I could. I then put the pine cone in the refrigerator to set, along with the suet mixture in the mold.

An hour later, they were solid. I popped the suet out of the mold and placed it in the cage, and hung it up, alongside the pinecone.

That was 3 days ago. Each day Bode has been anxiously checking hoping the birds have discovered them, but apparently they haven't at this point. I'm giving it a week — I think I am equally as anxious as my son. I miss the birds outside my window! I already have my sights set on a few birdfeeders (including hummingbird feeders) from our local feed store to add to the mix!
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  1. This is an interesting and wonderful post. I like how you created your own bird feeder, and I can tell that this will attract a lot of birds in my area.

  2. Cayenne pepper also makes a great additive. Birds like it, but squirrels and racoons and other suet-stealing critters do not.

    Thanks for the awesome recipe. :)


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