Monday, January 28, 2013

DIY Suet Feeders

I'm preparing a class for the Master Gardener chapter that I'm a member of on making bird-feeders utilizing natural sources, recycled materials and re-purposed items. Of course the best bird-feeder is what nature provides: nuts, seeds and fruit from native trees, shrubs and wildflowers (and native insects)... Here's my hand-out for my "bird" talk I give:  Creating a Bird Garden

But - this class is all about creating bird-feeders and I've been trying a few DIY feeders I've found over the Internet. I've been making my own suet for years and I am sure the birds prefer my homemade version over a purchased suet cake... In fact, I've never had a bluebird visit a suet feeder at my property unless it contained my homemade recipe! In addition to coating pine-cones with my suet mixture, I've been experimenting with some other options to offer this food supplement. Here's my recipe and what I've came up with so far...

Suet Recipe
2 cups lard  ~ You can render your own suet from beef fat (it's an all day process), but I prefer purchasing lard, which is pork fat.
2 cups chunky peanut butter
Melt the lard and peanut butter together, then add:
6 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
8 cups birdseed

Suet Log
Pretty much self-explanatory... I took a log, drilled random holes with a 1 inch spade drill bit. Then I drilled a hole in the top and added an eye bolt. I then filled the holes with suet and immediately the birds visited this "natural-looking" feeder...

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Tufted Titmouse

Grapevine Suet Ball
Purchase a grapevine ball from a craft store. Cover it with Glad Press'n Seal Wrap (it's the only wrap that works), pull the twigs apart on one side to make a hole and scoop in suet that has cooled to a "moldable" stage. Add twine or jute to hang the feeder. Refrigerate the ball until harden. Remove the plastic wrap - hang up the feeder - watch the action!
Update: The twigs of the grapevine ball are not strong enough to hold the weight of the suet. In my later version, I added a wire that went through the ball and supported the bottom.

Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay and Downy Woodpecker
Male Downy and Male Hairy Woodpeckers. They are lookalikes until they're side-by-side!

Orange Suet Feeder
Pretty simple... This would be a fun craft to do with children. 
Take an orange - cut it in half - scoop out the inside. Attach twine or jute (I used a wooden skewer to poke a hole and push the jute through). This feeder lasted a couple of days then one disappeared. The next day I discovered the mystery of the missing orange feeder!

Tufted Titmouse

Eastern Gray Squirrel:  the culprit...

Outdoor Wednesday
Down Home Blog Hop
I'd Rather B Birdn'
Wild Bird Wednesday
Nature Notes
Clever Chick Blog Hop


  1. Love the grapevine ball feeder. I make my own from wild vines for decorating, they are very strong, so I think this will work very well. Great pictures!!

  2. Superb!!! Thank you so much for allowing us to pick up your home-made recipe for the suet feed!! And it all sounds so easy and very little in time it takes. I will also add this link on my birding sidebar with a direct link to this post. It's very much appreciated, and I know other birders who visit I'd Rather B Birding will make use of it once they know it's available.

    Your photos are awesome.

  3. I remember making bird feeders using cones as a child. It was so much fun! I will try your recipe. I have found a few online but they don't always hold together well. I like the idea of using a log!

  4. I've never made suet, but now I have your recipe I'll have to give it a try.
    Your bird photos are beautiful!
    I've just learned how to tell the Downys from the Hairy Woodpeckers. The Hairy has a noticeably longer bill. We have the red-bellied woodpeckers here in Mississippi, too.
    Thanks for your visit and comment on my blog.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea's Menagerie

  5. really sweet feeders! i've never done suet here. i worry about warm days we get even in winter - plus i can just see my dogs camped out underneath them with noses to the air. :)

  6. Great post and love these photos. Thanks for the suet recipe.

  7. All those birds coming to your feeders certainly show that they enjoy your recipe!

  8. Nice to see your post.
    I like it!

  9. Oh I LOVE this as a project for children and adults and the feeders look so cute. I was going to ask you abour squirrels as I have to use the upsidedown suet feeders to keep them from pawing it all out. And every year I say I am going to make my own suet and then I don't. Maybe it is my aversion to getting all lardy on my hands. LOL...Maybe I could make one and hang it under the deck when it is harder to get at because I love it..Michelle

    1. Use a dough hook on low and it mixes it quite nicely!

      Just found the site and I'm loving it!!
      Thanks for some terrific ideas.

      Lucy Wain

  10. Love all your feeders, what great ideas. Looks like the birds all love the feeders too. And the squirrel can not miss out on any kind of free food. Great photos and post.

  11. Fabulous captures! I am going to make a log feeder, it's terrific. Love the titmouse!

  12. Great shots and good projects. I had the same thing happen with orange feeders I used to put up. The squirrels would get in on the action.

  13. Really creative ideas on how to serve up the suet. I will be trying them.
    Fresh Eggs Daily

  14. Great ideas and sets of pictures - I would have though the meal worms would be popular with the yardbirds as well!

    Cheers and thanks for posting to WBW.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  15. These are all marvelous ideas and I am going to get out and get a grapvine ball and try that one asap! Great ideas and your bird images are wonderful!

  16. Great post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  17. Wow ! Great photography and post ~ Love all the different birds and feeders ~

    Carol of : A Creative Harbor ^_^

  18. Great ideas - love the photos!

  19. Wonderful ideas, wonderful recipes and wonderful results! Thank you for sharing.

  20. Great ways to feed the birds! Love your garden roof coop! I would love to have you join me on The Creative HomeAcre Hop today!

  21. What could I use instead of cornmeal? It's not widely available here in the UK ...

  22. Would you mind sharing more detail on how you reinforced the grapevine balls to hold the suet? I'm making some right now and thinking I will need to do the same thing. Thanks!

  23. What a perfect site for bird lover beginners. Thanks.

  24. Can't wait to try the receipe. I have also seen grape jelly put out for the birds for good energy on real cold days. Just think what I can do with those jam packs we don't use from breakfast eating out sometime! Putting some jam out seems pretty easy to me. Just like buying a bunch of those hand/feet warmers for hunters or travelers stuck in a ice/snow storm. Couldn't they be handed out to the homeless as well. Can you buy them anywhere for less than a roller a pack? Again, thanks for your idea. Barb

  25. Does the lard stink in the summer?

  26. Thanks for these great ideas! I just featured you on my blog:

  27. Great post and photos love the orange feeder idea. Log suet feeders are easy to make and great to attract different birds especially woodpeckers. Learn more about these feeders at my store

  28. !Outlook Tech Support GREAT POST, I like your postThanks for hosting! Have a wonderful week!



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