With the Great Backyard Bird Count on tap for February 15-18, I want to let you in on a not-too-well-kept secret that will help you attract birds to your home feeding station. It’s what I call Gourmet Peanut Butter & Jelly Suet, a homemade mix that puts ready-made suet cakes to shame.
To make the tasty cakes, soften 1 cup crunchy peanut butter with 1 cup vegetable shortening in the microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds, stir, and then warm again at the same level for a few seconds more as needed. Stir in 2 cups each of quick cook oats and plain cornmeal, and 1 cup each of whole wheat flour and raisins. For an optional punch, you can add nuts and/or seeds.
To fashion the cakes, divide the suet mix into 3 parts, pressing each into a small-size (5 inch square) plastic container lined with plastic wrap, and then refrigerate to harden. The cakes can also be shaped by hand, or the suet can be spread on pine cones or the bark of trees. Hang cakes in either a wire feeder or in the plastic netting of an onion bag.
In my experience, suet brings the most interesting birds to the feeding station. I particularly enjoy the outgoing Carolina Wrens with their ear-splitting call, teakettle-teakettle! As well as the much more shy woodpeckers.
If you want to learn more about birds, including their calls, one of my favorite resources is WhatBird.