About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why the birds are eating tremendous amounts of suet

We live in Arkansas. This year the birds are eating tremendous amounts of suet compared to past years. What should we attribute this to ? We are seeing more varieties this year, some of which we have not seen for 10 years. The most entertaining has been the red bellied woodpecker eating from the hummingbird feeders. Again, why so much suet? 

Suet (processed beef kidney fat) is the most concentrated source of energy you can offer wild birds. In early spring it help migrating birds recuperate from their journey north. Later it meets the increased energy demands of all the nesting birds. In the summer months, it provides a good substitute for insect-eating birds, especially in years when insects are not very plentiful. In fall, suet helps wild birds store fat to prepare for migration south. And of course, in winter, suet replenishes depleted stores of energy and nutrients, to help birds survive the long, cold months.

An increase of activity could be the result of many factors. Weather is the number one reason. Birds that eat suet are usually bug hunters. Cool temperatures or droughts aren’t conducive to the reproduction of insects. We had a very cool spring in Michigan and birds were going crazy for suet! When the migrants arrived they were desperate for high-calorie foods. Then it rained, warmed up here and the birds moved off the feeders to forage more for more wiggly food.

There may also be a bird population increase or a shift in bird population if there is any development going on in your area. Project Feeder Watch graphs the population of birds at feeders. You can explore that data at: http://feederwatch.org/explore/trend-graphs/

And lot of birds have sweet beaks! Woodpeckers, finches and orioles are often sighted at hummingbird feeders in Michigan. They can also get their sweet fix by sipping sap from trees like maples, nectar from tree flowers or juices from fruit.  

Related Articles:
- What birds eat suet? http://bit.ly/q2Sfje
- Can I make my own suet? http://bit.ly/rsc1JT
- How do I Attract Woodpeckers? http://bit.ly/o4CLqI
- Filling Up on Fatty Foods: http://bit.ly/ob0NIq 
- Can I feed suet year-round? http://bit.ly/I4Ow8l