We enjoy feeding wild birds all year long and fortunately, we have a window seat overlooking a protected nook that’s perfect for observing them from the inside.
It’s particularly helpful to feed them during the colder months when there are fewer seeds and berries available for the wild birds.
What To Feed Wild Birds
Each species (see 15 Most Common Wild Birds) of bird has different seed preferences, so the type of seed offered can be customized to attract specific birds:
Cracked corn – cardinals, doves, grosbeaks, sparrows
Black Oil Sunflower or Sunflower – many birds
Peanuts – blue jays, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers, wrens
Thistle – finches
Safflower – cardinals, chickadees, grosbeaks, nuthatches
White Millet – cardinals, doves, juncos, towhees, sparrows
For feeders, we look for sturdy models that are easy to fill and clean (and that are designed for dispensing the type of seed we’re planning on feeding). We’ve found that models from Audubon and Droll Yankee have worked well for us – they sometimes seem a bit pricier than other brands but they’ve lasted for years.
In addition to seed, suet is an important food for bird species that depend on insects for food, such as woodpeckers. The suet supplies carbohydrates and energy they need to survive the cold weather. Here’s the recipe we make each year for the suet feeder:
Peanut Butter Suet
- Cake Pan
- 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 2 cups "quick cook" oatmeal
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups lard
- 1 cup white flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Melt the peanut butter and lard together in a pan over low heat, then mix in the remaining ingredients (while still on low heat).
- Press the mixture into a square or rectangular cake pan so that the mix is about 1 inch thick (or the thickness of your suet feeder.
- Freeze for an hour, and then cut into squares that will fit your feeder.
We also enjoy observing bluebirds on the farm but have never been very successful at attracting them to the feeders. That’s because we fill our feeders with seed. If you want to attract bluebirds to your feeders, it’s generally necessary to stock the feeders with currants, raisins, or other bits of dried fruit (see Creating Bluebird Habitat).
Of course, you’ll likely attract other critters to your feeders and it can be a battle to keep feeding just the wild birds.
Feeding wild birds the type of seed they prefer is an easy way to bring whatever species of bird you enjoy observing into your yard. They’re colorful, beautiful, and we can spend hours watching their antics!
Nina Paul says
Thanks for sharing this guide, it will help me better taking care of birds in my area.
Great Nina Paul, Your birds will love you!
Wendi smith says
This sounds like a wonderful recipe, I can’t wait to try it. But in the directions, after freezing for an hour,, it said cut in to squares to fit in freezer…., should that have said in squares to fit in our feeders? Just wondering. Pretty sure I can figure it out. Thank you
Hi Wendi, yes it should have said cut into squares to fit into feeder. Thanks for catching that – I’ll fix it now 🙂
carol hildenbrand says
can you use creamy peanut butter?
I can’t think of any reason that creamy peanut butter wouldn’t work. I’ve never tried it though so let us know what happens!
Helen Rasmussen says
I would like to make these, but would like to know if they attract sparrows? We have been inundated with sparrows, and I read that if you place suet in your feeder that does not have seeds, they’ll ignore that.
I’m keeping fingers crossed this recipe will do the trick!
It certainly doesn’t seem to attract sparrows at our house, I see lots of birds but not sparrows 🙂 Let us know if it does the trick!
Mrs. Kirk says
Hi and thank you for your recipe and story. We have many bird feeders of different types in our yard for all kinds of wild birds. A few weeks ago, while shopping for bird seed, we picked up a suet cake cage feeder and a few pre-made (commercial type) suet cakes,peanut butter based and lard based. They all went quickly! Since then, I have been doing some research on how to make my own homemade suet cakes and I just found yours ☺ I am excited to try it!
Glad you found it! The birds do really seem to enjoy the suet 🙂
I am going to make these today. Thank you for offering LARGE print option! Saved me from c/p to word and doing that. A step I’d probably have skipped. Creative Blessings in 2017!