Lots of people consider suet as a winter only treat, it is true that suet can be a lifeline in the winter but actually Spring & Summer (as long as it is in a shady area) is a great time for the birds to eat suet too.
Over the last few years I have been observing my garden birds, watching what they love to eat and what they don’t and taking note of that throughout the seasons. The verdict here in Derbyshire is that they love suet all year around.
Suet can be really beneficial to birds in the winter as it is full of fat, but equally they need fat in the Spring and Summer too. We are coming up to the nest and fledge season in the bird world and I don’t know about your birds but mine are darting all over the place, building nests, eating more and some have even started taking big beak-fulls of food back to the nest.
During this season, adult birds can lose quite a bit of their body weight. Especially when the season is like it is this year (2018) where the weather still hasn’t really picked up and we’re not seeing a huge sign of spring yet! Saturated fat is a brilliant source of energy for your garden birds, it will help them to keep up during the breeding season and you will have a great impact on their nesting brood too.
Fledgling birds need all the help they can get, extra calcium for their bones, fat to help them grow and lots of protein. So by adding suet to the garden during the Spring and Summer you are effectively making sure it gets back to the little ones. Their parents will also bring them to your feeder when the time is right and show them the delicious offerings that you have put on the table for them.
What is suet?
We get asked this a lot by our customers. Suet is the fat build up around organs — mainly animal kidneys. Years ago people used to add it to pies and suet puddings and bake with it. We don’t do that as much now, but our garden birds still think it is fabulous.
What birds will eat suet?
Most birds are partial to a bit of suet, in my garden I see everyone from the Robins to the Nuthatches enjoying it. The other day our resident Reed Bunting even took some that had fallen onto the floor. Suet is a big hit in most gardens and it might be that you start to see more birds because you are offering it. Wrens also love suet, so add some to a shady spot on the ground and you might catch them eating it.
If you have particularly small bird birds in your garden you might want to cut up some of the pieces of suet so they can take smaller bits. Coal tits for example might be reluctant to take large pieces. Equally if you have longtailed tits you could try crumbling the suet or adding it to mesh suet feeder, they have the smallest beaks and can’t always grab large pieces or break them down either.
You can also buy Suet Blocks that can be useful for your small birds like coal tits and longtails — they will happily feast on those, but Robins, Nuthatches and Dunnocks won’t!
Suet can have extra nutrition
Some suets are enhanced with other nutritional things, our insect suet for instance has pieces of kibbled mealworms and insects inside the suet. Why is this good? Well it offers extra protein on top of the fat, it is also great for nesting birds because they can’t have the dried mealworms but they will get some protein and fat from your suet pellets.
You may find by adding these types of extra nutritional suets that more birds are queuing up for them. I guarantee that if your neighbours use a bog-standard wilko suet and you use ours the birds will be on your feeder!
Not all suet is made equal
You should try to the be a bit discerning when buying your suet. Not all suet is made equal and that is something I passionately shout about a lot of the time. Quite a lot of the cheap suets you will find in the shops, you will know them they are just a beige colour and smell like dog food are really just that. They have a very small amount of actual suet in them and the rest is just filler and sometimes even wood glue!
If you are looking for a cheaper suet and find suet that has some colour and a good smell at least. Don’t just buy suet that costs £1 for 2kg it won’t be worth the money because there won’t be any nutritional value for your birds.
Our suet is made from 100% beef suet and is flavoured with real blackcurrants, or mealworms or peanuts. I do ask people to smell it because it smells good enough to eat. It has no wheat flour in it and is made from peanut and quinoa flour.
Before I knew so much about feeding the birds I used to put out cheaper varieties but the birds didn’t take it as a often and if I tried that now they would probably throw it out the dish!
Suet is not as messy
If you like a more tidy feeding arrangement then suet might just be the thing for you. It isn’t as messy. Now i’m not saying mess is a problem, my birds clean up after themselves and actually our seed mixes are all clean plate mixes, but some people find with other seeds they just end up on the floor — because the birds don’t want to eat certain fillers.
If you really hate the mess then suet is a great option. Suet is bigger and less sticky and it rarely (unless your squirrel knocks it off) falls on the floor like some seed mixes. But don’t forget to feed the ground feeders some suet in a convenient place for you.