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


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