The first lesson that we had to learn was to NOT put out birdfeeders with bird seed too close to the house. Beyond the mess that the birds made – the problem was actually that we were attracting mice. We would come to the cabin on the weekend to find small piles of birdseed inside. Once even in one of our beds! That was when we switched to suet style feeders which have been a big hit with the birds.
Our suet feeders attract woodpeckers (Downy, Hairy and Flickers), chickadees, nuthatches, magpies and the occasional other species. They provide endless entertainment to us and our cat who watches from the inside of the cabin. We use these feeders all year round.
This week I decided to try making my own suet. I found various recipes online but primarily relied on a no melt recipe. (see: Foods.com which reference Birds and Blooms Extra, contributed by Virginia Barnard).
I made a dozen suet blocks using this recipe:
Lard: 2 blocks (2 lbs or about approximately 900 grams)
Peanut Butter (Crunchy): Most of a 1kg jar
Flour: 2 cups
Oatmeal (one minute): 4 cups
Cornmeal: 4 cups
Sugar: I cup (I note that many folks choose to skip the sugar but I added it to make sure that my first attempt would attract birds!)
Bird Seed: 4 cups
I melted the lard and mixed in the peanut butter until they were liquified. I added the dry ingredients while the mixture was still warm.
I had saved old molds from purchased suet blocks. I took 12 empty molds and lined them each with a piece of plastic wrap.
I filled each mold with the suet mixture (approximately two soup ladles full) and then wrapped the excess plastic wrap around the edges.
I placed them in the freezer placing wax paper between the layers of molds.
Once frozen I removed them and placed them out for the birds. They have been enjoying the fresh suet all day! The plastic wrap that I used was very effective to make them easy to remove from the molds.