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

BirdNote®: Who Likes Suet?

Air Date: Week of

Northern Flickers are big fans of suet in the cooler months. (Photo: Courtesy of BirdNote)

If you’re looking to feed the birds, seeds aren’t the only snacks you can offer. There’s also suet, a type of fat that comes from cows and sheep and is packed with energy. BirdNote’s Mary McCann has more about which birds like suet best.


DOERING: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Jenni Doering.

CURWOOD: And I’m Steve Curwood.


CURWOOD: If you’re looking to feed the birds, seeds aren’t the only snacks you
can offer. There’s also suet, a type of fat that comes from cows and sheep and is packed with energy. BirdNote’s Mary McCann tells us more about which birds like suet best.

Who Likes Suet?

[Tufted Titmouse song, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/192213, 0,16-.19]
Fall is a great time to put out a suet feeder. Suet cakes are mostly fat, giving birds a high energy boost to help them survive the cold weather.
Who likes suet? It’s a long and varied list. [White-breasted Nuthatch call, https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/176168, 0.04-.07]

The chickadee is another fan of suet to help build up their fat reserves to survive the winter. (Photo: Courtesy of BirdNote)

Typical visitors include chickadees and titmice, nuthatches, jays, and woodpeckers. 
And keep an eye out for other birds at your suet feeder, especially those whose beaks can’t open seeds. Tiny kinglets, among the smallest of all songbirds, sometimes hover at the feeder. Wrens love a bite of suet, too, as well as almost any kind of sparrow or wintering warbler. [Bewick’s Wren song,  https://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/187044, 0.07-.10]

Alas, non-native European Starlings also find suet hard to resist. But there are suet feeders designed to exclude starlings while letting the regular native birds get to the good stuff.
One of those native birds is the Brown Creeper. It’s an especially cool bird to discover at your feeder, because it’s most often glimpsed disappearing briskly up the trunk of a tree.
In the West, mobs of tiny Bushtits sometimes blanket a chunk of suet, taking a break from their normal diet of insects and spiders.
It’s high time to hang up the suet feeder.
I’m Mary McCann.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch likes to frequent suet feeders. (Photo: Mike Hamilton)

Written by Bob Sundstrom
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by Jay W McGowan, Geoffrey A Keller and Bob McGuire.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2017 Tune In to Nature.org   October 2018/2019   Narrator: Mary McCann

CURWOOD: For pictures, fly on over to our website, loe dot org.



Find out more about this story on the BirdNote website

Learn more tips about how to feed wintering birds


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth