Our feathered friends can use all the help we can give them during the cold months. Suet is especially important because it is usually made with animal but fats like peanut butter can be also used. Energy from fats helps birds sustain activity levels longer between meals. There are many recipes for homemade suet, but mine is quick and could not be easier. A big plus is that it is completely biodegradable. It is also a nice activity to do with children (be sure to keep the knife out of their reach and do the cutting yourself, for safety).
What you need
½ cup lard
2 ½ cups birdseed (a general mix)
Jute twine or baler twine
Paring or steak knife
2 small bowls
The next time that you have an orange for a snack or breakfast, cut it in half and remove the fruit with a steak knife, leaving two orange ‘bowls’. A grapefruit spoon or knife would be helpful, but I don’t have one (it is now on my shopping list since I want to make more of these feeders!).
Using the tip of the same knife, make 2 holes across from each other in each ‘cup’. Then thread the twine through the holes and tie, making handles. Set cups aside in small bowls, ready to fill.
Melt lard in a saucepan on low heat until it is liquid. Turn off heat and add birdseed. Fill each orange half with mixture, return to the bowls and set them a cool place until the lard becomes solid again. You may need to put it in the refrigerator. This recipe made more than the 2 orange halves could hold. I simply put the extra in a plastic container and stored it in the fridge.
Place finished suet cups in your favorite bird feeding area, and enjoy watching winter birds scarfing down their treat.
How much do birds like these orange suet cups? I suppose that it depends on what other goodies are available. When I placed mine in the small crabapple tree in our feeder area, a chickadee watched from a lofty perch in the nearby River Birch, checking out what was being added to its country diner.
It did not take long for it, and other birds, to begin feasting. No problem, as the recipe made enough suet for a couple of re-fills.
The neat thing about using jute or baler twine for the handles is that, come spring, birds can use it for their nests. But, if you don’t have any and you have a piece of wire, pipe cleaner, or chenille stem, by all means use it instead. See? Quick and easy!
In true ‘bowl’ tradition, having 2 orange suet cups at the feeder gives home space for 2 teams. Who will win, the Cardinals or the Blue Jays? Oh, wait…that’s baseball, isn’t it? LOL
Note: I bought the lard from The Farmers Wife store (see January 9 story about Mendy Sellman) because I wanted all-natural.
Marcheta *team player