Bird Nerd: Downy Woodpecker

Photo Credit: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Downy_Woodpecker/id

The Downy Woodpecker is one of my favorite visitors to our feeder. We have a male and female that come visit. My photos aren’t as great as this one. The male has read on his head to attract a female. They love to eat suet cakes. We buy ours at the grocery store or at the pet store. You can also make your own by using a mold and left over grease.

Recipe taken from http://www.birdnature.com/suet.html

Suet: Facts, Feeders & Recipes
Red-breasted Nuthatch

        1. Grind the beef fat with a meat grinder or finely chop the fat.

        1. Heat the fat over a low to medium flame until its liquefied.

        1. Strain by pouring melted suet through a fine cheesecloth.

        1. Let cool to harden.

        1. Repeat steps 2-3. If the fat is not rendered twice, the suet will not cake properly.

      1. Let cool to harden and store in a covered container in the freezer.

      1. Make suet using any one of the suet recipes listed below.
      2. Cut twine or heavy string into 12″ lengths (optional). (see Note 2 below)
      3. Using a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil, lightly wipe inside of both sides of the mold and along the rims.
      4. Close the mold, matching up the rims of the egg halves until you hear the firm snap.
      5. Insert the string in the top hole (optional) and pour the suet mixture through a funnel.
      6. Refrigerate or freeze.
      7. To pry open the Jell-O Egg Jigglers Mold, open the mold using a dull flat knife (butter knife) between each egg. Do not open mold by pulling the handles apart. Shake gently to unmold eggs.
      1. If you don’t want to use the twine/heavy string, just pour suet in molds. Place eggs in a nylon mesh onion bag and hang anywhere in your backyard!
      2. If the twine will be used, you can tie the eggs together and hang from a tree branch. The twine should not be more than 12″ in length. If you want to tie the eggs around a tree trunk, use longer lengths of twine.

        • Baker’s Tin Foil Bake Cups

        • When you purchase a suet cake, reuse the container that it came in

        • When suet cools, roll in balls

        • Make a holding cell from heavy duty aluminum foil

        • Small bread loaf pans lined with plastic wrap or foil for easy removal.

        • Margarine containers

        • Any size baking/pie pans (when suet cools, cut into squares)

        • Pine Cones

      • And, of course, our own “Nuthatch Suet Eggs”!
    • Attaching wire mesh to a tree trunk or suspending it from a branch.
    • Hanging a nylon mesh onion bag from a tree branch.
    • A log feeder.
    • Simply smearing soft suet mixtures on tree trunks.
    • Smeared suet on pine cones.

The picture at the right is of a Red-breasted Nuthatch at our own homemade Suet Log Feeder. If you would like to construct a log feeder, we have provided instructions for you by clicking on the above link.

Suet is raw beef fat from around the kidneys and loins. Suet is one of the best foods to attract nuthatches, woodpeckers, wrens, titmice, creepers, kinglets, chickadees, thrashers, cardinals and even bluebirds and unfortunately the starlings and squirrels! To discourage the starlings, purchase a suet feeder cage that is covered on all sides but the bottom. Only those birds that can hang upside down will use this feeder.

If the temperature outside is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and warmer, beef fat can turn rancid and melt. There are many commercial suet cakes that can be purchased and some of these are called “no melt”, “berry” and “insect” cakes.

How to Render Suet:

You can trim excess fat off beef cuts and store in the freezer until enough fat is achieved or you can purchase beef fat from the grocery store or your nearby butcher.

Household Items that can be used to pour suet in:

Nuthatch Suet Eggs!

We use the “Jell-O Egg Jigglers” mold for some fun. These molds are given away at grocery stores during the Easter Holidays. You can also use egg cartons.

Note:

Suet Feeders:

There are a variety of suet feeders that can be purchased or made. The popular commercially available suet feeder is a wire cage that holds one cake of suet. Some bird feeders have a hopper for seeds and suet cages on the sides of the hopper.

Easy-to-Make Suet Feeder:

We are providing you with instructions on how to make a very simple Suet Log Feeder. We use these every winter and have had great success. The birds that visit this feeder are: Common Flicker, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches and unfortunately the starlings! Please send us email at birdnature@birdnature.com if you have built this feeder and if it was successful.

Suet Recipes taken from http://www.birdnature.com/suet.html

 
1 Pound Suet cut in small pieces
1 Cup Yellow Cornmeal
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Cup Chunky Peanut Butter
1 Cup Mixed Wild Bird Seed
1 Cup Hulled Sunflower Seed or Chopped Pecans
Preparation:

  1. Melt suet over low flame.
  2. Stir in ingredients.
  3. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.
  4. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.


Back to Suet Recipes


Feathered Friends
1 Cup Chunky Peanut Butter
2 Cups Cornmeal
2 Cups Quick Cook Oats
1 Cup Lard or Suet
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Cup White Flour
Preparation:

  1. Melt lard/suet and peanut butter together and stir.
  2. Stir the remaining ingredients.
  3. Pour the mixture into a square container about 1-1/2 inches thick.
  4. Allow it to cool, then cut it into squares and store in the freezer.


Back to Suet Recipes


It Must be Love
1/2 Pound Fresh Suet
1/3 Cup Black Oil Sunflower Seed
2/3 Cup Mixed Wild Bird Seed
1/8 Cup Chopped Peanuts or Chopped Pecans
1/4 Cup Raisins
Preparation:

  1. Follow instructions for rendering suet.
  2. While suet is cooling, stir ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Place the suet into the mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.
  5. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.


Back to Suet Recipes


Peanut Butter Sandwich
1 Cup Fresh Suet
1 Cup Peanut Butter
3 Cups Yellow Cornmeal
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
Preparation:

  1. Follow instructions for rendering suet.
  2. Over low heat, melt suet and add peanut butter. Stir until well blended.
  3. Mix ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Pour suet into the bowl mixture and mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.
  6. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.


Back to Suet Recipes


Captain Crunch!
2 Pounds Fresh Ground Suet
1/2 Cup Chunky Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Shelled Sunflower Seeds or Chopped Pecans
Preparation:

  1. Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add peanut butter, stirring until melted and well blended.
  3. Stir in the sunflower seeds. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.
  5. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.


Back to Suet Recipes


Apple Dumplings
3 Cups Rendered Suet
1 Cup Whole Wheat Bread (dried & crumbled)
1/2 Cup Shelled Sunflower Seeds
1/4 Cup Millet
1/2 Cup Chopped Dried Apples
Preparation:

  1. Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened.
  4. Stir suet into the bowl of mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.
  6. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.


Back to Suet Recipes


Back to Basics
1 Cup Suet
1 Cup Peanut Butter
3 Cups Cornmeal
1/2 Cup White Flour
Preparation:

  1. Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Add peanut butter, stirring until well blended.
  3. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened.
  5. Stir suet into the bowl of mixture and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.
  7. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.


Back to Suet Recipes


Healthy Treat
3 1/2 Cups Oatmeal
1 Quart Water
1 Pound Suet
1 1/2 Ounce Jar Peanut Butter
3 1/2 Cups Cornmeal
3 1/2 Cups Cream of Wheat
Preparation:

  1. Melt suet in saucepan over low heat.
  2. Cook oatmeal in water for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Stir in suet and peanut butter and blend.
  4. Add cornmeal and cream of wheat.
  5. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.
  6. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.


Back to Suet Recipes


Zesty Berry
4 1/2 Cups Ground Beef Suet
3/4 Cup Finely Ground Cracker or Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup White Proso Millet
1/2 Cup Hulled Sunflower Seed
1/4 Cup Dried and Chopped Berries, Raisins or Currants
Preparation:

  1. Melt suet over medium heat.
  2. Mix together remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Allow suet to cool until lightly thickened.
  4. Pour into bowl with other ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pour or pack into molds, feeders, or any household item.
  6. Refrigerate until hardened or freeze.




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Go Adventure Mom’s found, Kathy Dalton, launched Go Adventure Mom in 2012 in an effort to bring women together that love travel and the outdoors. As a former ski instructor, Kathy has taken her love for outdoor recreation and through the power of social media has created a platform to share her passion with the world. As a mom of three, Kathy loves to share her family adventures in Utah, cross-country skiing up Millcreek Canyon, skiing in the Wasatch Mountains, camping in Grand Teton National Park and camping in the Uintas. Kathy has been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Parents and Parenting magazine. Kathy is a regular contributor to Visit Salt Lake and is a tip contributor on TripAdvisor.

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