Home Made Suet Feeder





Introduction: Home Made Suet Feeder

About: I was born at a very early age...

Most people would agree that to have a great variety of birds in your backyard it behooves you to have a wide variety of feeders and feed to attract avian diversity. Feeders range from tubes filled with seed, cages filled with suet, bottles filled with sugar water, and even just a shallow box placed on a pedestal filled with bread crumbs. There are countless different ways to feed birds in your backyard and I just knew the world wouldn't be able to properly function if I didn't throw out my own idea. :-) This project is easy to build, won't take up very much time, and if you're like a lot of Instructables Users you already have everything you need to complete it!

Step 1: What You WIll Need

The tools needed for this are very easy to come by and like I already have said, you probably have everything you need.

One Landscape Timber about 18-24 inches long (46-61 centimeters for my Rest-Of-The-Planet friends).


3 different sizes of spade bits (also known as a paddle bit) I used a 1/2 inch (1.3cm), 5/8 inch (1.6cm), and a 3/4 inch (1.9cm).

Some means of hanging the finished product from a tree or shepherd's hook. Somehow or another I couldn't find any zip ties (I know, I know!) so I used a length of chain I had lying around.

Suet to put into your finished feeder.

Step 2: Drill Hole. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat...

This part is very simple. Bore a hole into the wood at whatever depth you'd like (be careful not to go all the way through here). After you've made several holes with your starting bit, switch to a second size and repeat the process. Once bit number two has been utilized, go to bit number three. Once you're done with that, turn it over and start the process all over again. Very easy, nigh on impossible to screw up.

Step 3: Break on Through to the Other Side...

In order to hang the feeder you'll need to drill a hole all the way through the timber. Unless you're using a corded drill you should expect a bit of battery drainage after this step. I was able to complete the entire project and use my drill for an additional 10 minutes of (very) light duty work on one charge but there was a noticeable lack of spunk after this part. I drilled through on two sides; once through the height (laying down) and once through the width. You don't have to go through both ways, but it opens up some more possibilities about where/how you can hang it.

Step 4: The Dirty Hands Part

This part of the Instructable is my favorite because I get to get my hands messy for a constructive reason. Anyone who has read my Quick and Easy Margherita Pizza Instructible will understand that I like to get "involved" with the project, rather than use a utensil that could get the job done :

A) More efficiently
B) Less messily (it's a word now)

Basically just take your suet cake and jam it into the holes. As you do this the cake will crumble and you'll get a fairly good sized pile of suet that you can use when you go to fill the other side. If you look at the pictures you can see a good example.

Step 5: Shoo the Dogs Away

If you're fortunate enough to have dogs then you are probably already aware of their insatiable curiosity (read: hunger) about anything even remotely resembling something they can eat. Shoo them away. I don't think that commercially bought suet would be necessarily bad for a dog, but I wouldn't want to clean up the mess if it was.

Step 6: Flip It! Flip It Good!

Using the pile of crumbled suet first, fill the holes on the other side of the timber. After that is used up go back to the cake and repeat step 4. You can use the second pile of crumbled suet to fill up the unused hole made by drilling through both ways in step three. You will probably use about 2/3 of the cake, which should be wrapped up and put into the fridge for later use.

Step 7: Hang in There

If you're a good person then you will have several different methods available to you for hanging your finished product, but my recommendations are nylon string or zip ties. I seem to be falling short in the Good Person Department of late and could not locate anything other than a length of chain. Lacking any feasible way to connect both ends of the chain together without trying some weird chain knot tying, I dug deep into my intellectual reserves and improvised by using a paper clip.It has held for over a week now so apparently it wasn't as stupid an idea as I thought it was as I hung the timber from the tree out back, lamenting my lack of zip ties. Once you've picked out a good spot for the timber just hang it up and you're done!

Step 8: Fin

One additional thing you can add to this project is a collection of little dowel rod perches for the birds to sit on while the chow down. I didn't include this because the first one I made was a big hit with woodpeckers and they had no trouble just latching themselves onto the timber. If you're in an area where you think you'll be getting mostly songbirds, or just want the wrens and finches to have easier access then this would be a good idea. Currently in my backyard there are two tray feeders, two of these timber feeders, two of the extra large sized suet cages (for cardinals, blue jays, etc.), a thistle tube and a thistle sock, and a couple of the regular, store bought suet cages. If you're more Easterly than Southern Indiana chances are you could attract orioles by filling this with apple suet or even just cramming some fresh fruit into the holes. I used peanut suet to attract the woodpeckers and have found that the hot pepper delight is great for birds and squirrels hate it. Win/Win! I hope you've enjoyed this project as much as I have.



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    I use to make something similar. I used peanut butter and bird seed as the energy food. The birds loved it, but so do the squirrels.

    4 replies

    I have set up my winter bird feeder to attract Black Capped Chickadees,and fill it with black oil sunflower seeds. This morning,I found a couple of cakes of suet,one for woodpeckers,and the other cake for other types of birds. I intend to place them on the ends of my feeding station. I have a squirrel baffle on the pole holding the feeder,and so far no squirrel has defeated it.

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    Yeah, peanut butter attracts all kinds of things here in the Midwest. At my old house I lived near a fairly large wooded area and all kinds of critters would sneak into the yard for their suet fix. You've not lived until you unwittingly walk within 3 feet of a hungry raccoon sitting in a tree branch trying to abscond with your suet feeder filled with your homemade peanut butter suet. Interesting morning that was. That's the main reason I don't make suet any more and I'm hoping someone here will come up with a decent recipe for me to try that emulates the store bought stuff (non-avian critters don't seem to care for it quite as much).

    I know what you are saying about peanut butter. Peanut Butter is the crack cocaine of the animal world.

    A thought, you'd have to be very dedicated to clean the residue of old peanut butter from the feeder before replenishing it with more. Unfortunately rancid peanut can harbour a mold/fungus that is harmful to birds.

    I need something like this! - an entire suet cage disappeared from a hook about 18" above the ground - possibly squirrels; it had completely vanished, so it must have been taken right over the fence. next time I need something the **@@! can't move!

    I also make my own suet to put in a suet cage. Its really good. It uses mostly lard, cornmeal, flour and rasins. Ask me if you wish the get the recipie

    1 reply

    Am having trouble finding kidney fat (best suet). No butchers here. Grocery stores sell prepackaged meats (and most employees have no idea what suet is).

    They only offer beef fat trimmings. Not really suitable for Tallahassee winters (much less summers).


    Please send me or post your SUET CAKE RECIPE.

    Commercially sold "landscape timber" sold in the East (I have lived in Boston, Baltimore and Tallahassee) is almost always treated chemically to kill termites.

    This poison MAY leach into the suet.

    If possible use untreated lumber or be on the lookout for a suitable tree being taken down. Select the diameter limb and cut to length.

    For a buck or two tip, the guy taking down the tree will likely cut the limb for you.

    I'm with leebryuk, suet is the hard white fat found around kidneys and loin cuts of meat. You could get it as off cuts from your local butcher or if you can't face handling the real stuff (and in the UK) you can get lard (reduced, pure suet) in block form from your local supermarket - peeps traditionally use it as shortening for pie crusts. That way you know that the suet you are using is fit for human consumption and therefore fit for avian consumption. To add the wild bird seed: cut the lard (suet) in chunks and place in saucepan on a low heat until it softens. It is important to do this process slowly so that you don't overheat it and change the nature of the fat in any way. The fat doesn't have to become completely liquid, at the point at which it is the consistency of a paste you can take the pan off the stove & stir in the wild bird seed (sunflowerseeds, millet, kibbled maize, pin head oats, red dari, whole wheat). Let the mix cool until it is of a consistency suitable to spoon into whatever feeder or mould / form you choose. I put out suet cake in winter when it is gobbled by squabbling hoards of starlings and a band of blackbirds who are known to take advantage of their size & therefore ranking in the pecking order.

    Be aware that some landscape timbers are treated in order to prevent deterioration when in contact with soil. The last batch I bought even had a warning about handling with bare hands. You might want to insure that you get an untreated timber so you are actually feeding the birds rather than killing them. It might not weather as well but will be more friendly to the wildlife!

    1 reply

    A very good point, and one that should be taken very seriously. The timber in my Instructable was made from untreated wood about 5 years ago (as you can tell from some of the close ups...) so no harm there,but thank you very much for pointing that out to the readers. Good call.

    Isn't suet the edible fat around kidneys and such? If so, suet is some sort of seed cake bound by fat?

    1 reply

    Suet cakes are typically comprised of crude fats and a mixture of seeds, yes. A quick and easy way to make your own, however, is to use peanut butter as it is high in fat and calories and is also pretty sticky. The downside is every creature in the forest will ravenously attack peanut butter in any form, leaving little for the birds (and causing me to empty out my wallet for more supplies).