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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote ®- Winter Birds Love Suet

Air Date: Week of

In winter there are few bugs for hungry birds to eat so they flock to back yard suet feeders. BirdNote®'s Mary McCann reports.


CURWOOD: Now perhaps at this time of year, you're contemplating cutting back on those rich fatty foods after all the holiday festivities. But that's not for the birds! Here's Mary McCann with today's Birdnote®.

MCCANN: At this time of year, birds love fat! With a brilliant flash of its copper-red underwings, a Flicker sails into the yard.


MCCANN: Just behind it wings a stubby-tailed Red-breasted Nuthatch:


MCCANN: Now a couple of energetic Black-capped Chickadees dart in

Chestnut-backed Chickadee (Photo: © Mike Hamilton)


MCCANN: …And a Downy Woodpecker brings up the rear.


MCCANN: What’s the attraction? A cake of suet, suspended from a branch in a small wire feeder. Suet is beef fat, a high-energy food critical for birds’ survival in the colder months. With few insects available in winter, suet is an especially strong magnet for birds that eat a lot of bugs in the warmer months. It’s also great for birds with bills that are not adapted to opening seeds.

Bird feeding suppliers now offer a wide array of processed suet cakes, some studded with berries or seeds. Perhaps a bird’s equivalent of a home-baked chocolate chip cookie.


Red-breasted Nuthatch (Photo: © Mike Hamilton)

MCCANN: I’m Mary McCann.

CURWOOD: There are pictures of these winter birds feasting on yummy suet-cakes over at our website - LOE dot org.

Written by Bob Sundstrom
Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Northern Flicker recorded by W.W.H. Gunn. Red-breasted Nuthatch call recorded by W.L. Hershberger. Black-capped Chickadee call by S.R. Pantle, call of a Steller’s Jay by G.A. Keller, and Downy Woodpecker [62757] call by W.W.H. Gunn.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org November 2012 Narrator: Mary McCann





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