Winter is a gift: it’s nature’s down time, a time when many of our plants go dormant and many animals have a winter’s rest. However, for those animals that are still active, winter can be a challenge. It’s hard to keep up your energy levels when you’re small, wet, and cold. Add food for the birds into your garden plans, and you’ll give the birds a very precious gift: Suet feeders provide fuel to stay warm in the cold winter season.
Suet is one way to help out your winter birds. It’s animal fat, and it’s an excellent food for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. These birds hop along tree bark searching for a delicious morsel. Suet feeders emulate this, providing your birds with a block of fat and protein-rich food. Chickadees love sunflower seed suet, while woodpeckers enjoy suet that’s packed with seeds and insects. Many birds aren’t terribly picky, and they’ll simply enjoy this easily accessible winter food.
What feeder should you choose? Wire mesh suet feeders are common, and they’re easy for birds to access. They’ll grab onto the mesh and feed as they would naturally, as they hang from the feeder to eat. If you’d like to be strategic about what birds access your suet, an upside down feeder will deter many birds that have a hard time hanging upside down to feed. And yes, this includes your local starlings!
As you would with other feeders, plan well when you install your bird feeding location. You want to put it in a place where you can see the feeder, both for ease of bird watching and also so that you will notice it and maintain it regularly. Make sure that your feeder is out of reach of common bird predators such as cats. Install it away from high places that cats might jump to, like fences or low branches.
Give your winter birds some shrubs to sit in, a warm bird bath to drink and bath in, and a block of suet to eat, and they’ll be happy visitors to your garden all winter long.