It may look like a cheese ball, but this one is for the birds. In the cold winter days when our beautiful winged friends are searching for food, it's fun to put out something they can enjoy.
You can buy commercial suet blocks from your local store to fit into a feeder cage, but it's just as easy to make your own. Suet is rendered animal fat, which holds the suet cake or ball together. Thespruce.com notes that you can use lard or even bacon grease (to a small extent). I've found that peanut butter works just as well, and may possibly be more nutritional for our feathered friends, for goodness sake!
Depending on the ingredients of your seed ball, you can attract different types of birds. Wrens and warblers like fruit such as raisins or dried cranberries. Woodpeckers and cardinals love sunflower seeds in the shell, while little birds like the smaller seeds.
We have seen redheaded woodpeckers, nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, warblers, cardinals, blue jays, bluebirds, and many others.
Recipe for Homemade Suet Cake
• Sunflower seeds (in or out of the shell)
• Wild Birdseed or thistle seed
• Raisins or dried cranberries
• Peanuts or other nuts chopped
• Maple syrup or honey
• Chunky peanut butter
1. In a large bowl, break the bread into tiny crumbs. Add the rest of the ingredients with 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey, and enough peanut butter to make everything stick together. Mix with a large spoon or with your hands.
2. Form mixture into a ball or press into a suet cage. Place or hang outside and enjoy watching the many birds that come visit.
Birds and Blooms magazine has several recipes for homemade suet using cornmeal, flour, and millet. Some even suggest putting in dried mill worms for a more nutritional mixture with protein.