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birds not coming to suet feeder

Posted by marric (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 27, 09 at 9:18

We made a suet feeder last week. I filled the holes and then we hung it close to the other feeders. The birds come but only eat from the regular feeders. I thought they would like the suet, we had one at our other house and it was usually empty after a day or two. I can't understand why they won't eat from it. Can you have to many feeders out? We have 3 near the house and DH put 2 farther out for the bigger birds. We do have a pear tree near the 3 feeders and we see the birds sitting in it so we know they are here. Why won't they eat from the suet feeder? Marg


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

I've found that it usually takes a few days up to a couple weeks for the birds to "discover" a new feeder, even when I've got other feeders nearby. Often it's the curious little Chickadees that figure it out first. Once it catches on, then the traffic really ramps up.

What type of suet are you filling the holes with? People have mentioned that birds don't like some of the commercial mixes. I make a home-made suet/lard mixture, that the birds like so much, I can only put it out in measured amounts. Otherwise the dang Blue Jays pig out and eat most of it.


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

i have 6 feeders all hanging from the same branch about 6 foot from the kitchen window and three stumps on the ground under them. I don't have squirrels to worry about and only a few starlings. So i put my suet mix in an open tray on a platform because the juncos and towhees and some of the others perch on the platform or tray to eat the suet. I use what ever i have on hand to make the mix. uusally lard oe shortning or bacon grease or vegtable oil
and mix in oats and nuts and dried fruits and cornmeal or grits it varies each time. I sprinkle rolled oats and boss on top cause the chickades love the loose stuff and the other birds follow the leader as the chickadees and nuthatches are the first to try anything. I don't put out suet until the winter storms start which brings in so many of my winter birds. The jays or magpies or flickers push their way in and eat but don'e stay long and the chickadees start again and the other birds follow the leader. i have diferent seeds or mixes in the different feeders cause i get a large variety of birds and each have their own likes and dislikes. and the branch is covered with birds waiting to get to the feeders when it's nasty weather outside. what falls lands on the ground or the stumps and i put stuff on the stumps also. I bake lots of corn bread in cold weather cause we eat a lot of it with stew or beans or chili. and always make extra and crumble it on the feeders or stumps and it's the favorite of all the birds when i have it out.


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

Well, I guess I'm not patient enough! Right after I posted I walked into the diningroom and saw 2 chickadees eating away. The blue jays tend to eat off the ground under the one feeder. I had posted to find out what everyone put in their suet mix so I just mixed together some lard, peanut butter, mixed seed, sugar. The chickadees seem to like it. DH couldn't wait for the suet feeder to be ready so he went out and put a dollop of crunchy peanut butter on top of a fence post. That was the first thing the chicadees found. Marg


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

Oh, I wish I had chickadees!! I used the mountain top lard, will that work? I smushed in some chopped nuts, dates, oats, and cornmeal. My hubby is dragging our christmas tree out there right now. We have no trees near our feeders, I think that's the problem??? No cardinals, no chickadees, but in the spring we have four or five families of bluebirds!!


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

Sissyz - lucky you having bluebirds! We have some blue jays. Last summer there were 2 flying around and they now come to eat sometimes. Once I saw a what I asumed to be one of their offspring flying around the pine trees. We have hawks in the area so maybe it was told by it's parents to stay where it was safer! As for the lard, I just used the plain lard used for baking. Marg


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

here the grocery stores carry the snow cap lard by Morrel
but if you have a meat packing plant or a butcher shop close by
most will sell suet or tallow or lard a lot cheaper
A relative got me a 4 gallon bucket of lard for my birds at christmas.
I did buy the shortning at the grocery with meat fats in it cheaper than regular vegtable shortning. I use used oil from the deep fryer rather than throw it out.


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

Marric, my basic ingredients are suet or lard, corn meal, flour, and nuts, but I add assorted other things as available. You could try putting some flour or corn meal in your mixture. I like the texture to be similar to Play-doh - it clumps together well to stuff in holes in the suet log, but can also be crumbled in a tray feeder. The Bluebirds love the crumbles and I do tend to spoil them (they are the only birds that will get special treats when they show up).

I have used rendered suet from Wild Birds and the Snow cap lard from the grocery store with equally good results. DKlucious, no butchers around here, but fortunately our local grocery store sells raw suet in the freezer.

Sissy, Bluebirds seem pretty comfortable in a more open habitat, but I think that most birds feel safer coming to the feeders if they have some cover nearby. There are lots of trees and shrubs around my feeders and the birds spend most of the time in there.


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

sissyz are you mixing your other ingredients with the lard straight from the can. If this is the case then that may be part of your problem Most everyone melts the lard on the stove and adds the other ingredents to make a doey like mixture or thicker for a crumbly one. jim


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

i mentioned on another post the easy way for me is to put the lard and peanut butter in a glass bowl in the microwave and nuke it for just over a minute and its soft enough to stir in the other stuff, i use rolled oats or cornmeal or grits to thicken it to a thick paste and it sets up fast and in a couple of minutes its ready to put outside


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

Now I have the Woodpecker and chickadees coming every day. The woodpecker comes about 3-4 times a day. I had thought there might be a mate for him/her but I've only always seen the one. When I made my suet I did it by hand. I just mixed the lard, peanut butter, seeds, oatmeal together and had no problem. Using the microwave to soften it might make it easier but I always use my hands, even when cooking. Marg


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

I didn't know to cook it. I take it right from the package, and mix it like you, marric, but all it did was attract those grackles.
I have trained the dog to bark at the big black crows and the grackles. The juncos can hop all the way up to the sliding glass door and she doesn't bother them, but those big ones, she knows, are not welcome! They don't play well with others! So, I will keep trying! Putting the Christmas tree out there has really helped. We get a lot more finches now. Never any chickadees or titmouse or any good ones!!


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

Marric, I do the same as Dklucious, I heat the suet or lard in the microwave until liquid. Then add the peanut butter, which melts in the hot fat, followed by dry ingredients. It's a little tricky getting the right texture, not too sticky, not too dry. Don't your hands get all sticky when you put them in the mixture?? I use a large bamboo spatula. :)

Sissy, if you get too many grackles you could look into an upside down suet feeder, or possibly a wire cage around your feeder that keeps out the larger birds.

This winter I've got a problem with the Blue Jays, there are more than usual hanging around. They are beautiful birds but kind of obnoxious. They like to fly in the middle of the little birds and scare them, and then hog most of the suet mixture.


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

terrene: yes, my hands do get sticky but not much worse than when I bake! I just scrape off the excess with the knife and then wash up. I always figure that the lard is good skin softener. I'll have the softest hands around!


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

i have a set of assorted wooden spoons i use to stir stuff in teflon pans or to stir jams or jellies so they don't stick. the largest one is just right to mix the suet with.
I have 3 starlings that have been here all winter and can be pests sometimes but the last storm a few days ago blew in a flock of them about a dozen very obnoxious ones and very aggressive. but they scare easily if i just tap on the window. I use and open lid or tray for my suet cause i get towhees and juncos and a lone flicker that perch on the platform and eat from the tray. i have cages but the towhees and juncos don't try to use them.


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

I am new to this fourm and have been using the store bought suet cakes in the square cage type feeder. My question is if I make mine like I have been reading about is there a way to use the cage type feeders I already have?
Thanks so much I really am enjoying the group
Ann in So Ut


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

I have an excellent book which someone gave me called "The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher Birdfeeders and bird Gardens" by Robert Burton & Stephen W. Kress, published by the Audubon Society on Thunder Bay Press. (ISBN 1-57145-186-2)

Not only does this book have excellent pictures of birds, it has dozens of plans on how to make bird feeders, nesting boxes, bird baths and how to plant a landscape garden to attract birds.

There is one whole chapter devoted to bird feeds and what birds they will attract.

In addition to the common seeds and suet mixes they have a long list of table scraps that are great for attracting birds.

They suggest making a wire cage and put your meat scraps in it, especially the fats that your trim off cooked hams or beef in addition to ham bones, beef marrow bones and even teh leftover turkey bones.

A few other things that i found interesting was cooked spaghetti, cooked rice, uncooked pastry dough, baked potatoes with the skin on and stale cheese.

Out of curiosity I baked a potato in the microwave, then sliced it in half and put it on my shelf feeder. It was a big hit with all the birds.

Another thing that the birds here seem to like is orange peels. I saw a Blue jay pick up and orange peel that was 1/4 of the orange and fly off with it.

If anyone is looking for a great how to book on building bird feeders or bird houses or making their own bird feeds I would highly recommend this one, especially if you are making bird feed because I am a bit skeptical of the health concerns for the birds when i read the recommendations of some books, but I don't think the Audubon Society would steer us wrong.


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

Ann, I don't have one of the square wire suet feeders but I don't see why you couldn't use homemade suet in those. I would just use a square plastic dish, put the thick suet in it and place in the fridge until it hardens. Then remove it and place in the cage. The suet feeder I have is one DH made for me. We have to attach all our feeders to fence post because of the strong winds we get here. Here are 3 of my feeders. The suet feeder is attached to a metal rod that is attached to the fence post. The chickadeees and woodpeckers love it!

HairyWoodpecker and Chickadee

I went to the dollar store and bought some crunchy peanut butter. I put that on top of a fence post.
Photobucket

The sparrows and blue jays love the 'tray' feeder.
Photobucket

B J

Another thing we do is toss some seeds on the ground for ground feeders like mouning doves, blue jays etc.


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RE: birds not coming to suet feeder

ann as i mentioned on the other post i buy blueberrys or raspberrys or blackberrys when they are on sale at the grocery stores and save the plastic containers they come in
i cut off the bottom half and mold my suet mix into the plactic box harden it if needed in the freezer, and put the plastic box into my wire cages and either hang from branch or hang on side of tree. i also put suet mix in platforn tray similar to the ones marric posted in the pictures above.


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