During colder months when there are fewer seeds and berries available for the wild birds, we enjoy feeding and observing them; but we like to stay warm and toasty too. Fortunately, there’s a window seat overlooking a protected nook that’s perfect for this, and we put a variety of seed and suet in feeders there to attract the birds.
Each species 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:
- 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 freezer.
Store extra suet squares in the freezer (separated by wax paper) until ready to use.