Bunkering down


The hairy and downy woodpeckers have resigned themselves to the suet now that insects are all but gone. Their loud, single-note call is either a greeting or a warning, I haven’t decided which. I hear them moving through the trees, announcing their arrival, and watch as they hitch up the tree trunk to the suet.


The blue jays are here all year, but seek every food opportunity now. I find one rearranging and consuming my autumn decorations. Silently, they peck at the corn, eating one kernel at a time until all the cobs are bare. They take to the trees and wait, and when I replenished the cobs, they return and resume their meal. I have resigned myself to fact that my autumn d├ęcor is a better food source than ornamentation.


One morning in late October the juncos returned. I heard their single “tick, tick” call from the underbrush. By late morning they had reacquainted themselves with the feeders and engage in a lively mission for food. Their small heads bob under the feeders as they extract what other birds have dropped, preferring to feed from the ground anyway. Occasionally one tackles a hanging feeder only to slip upside down on the rim before fluttering back to the ground. I welcome the juncos and am glad for the other resident birds that frequent my yard and feeders. They will be my avian companions in the cold months ahead.


Bird Suet
Bird suet is made specifically to be highly nutritious for birds and provides food when seeds and insects are scarce. Typically, suet is a combination of rendered fat and can include ingredients such as raisins, cherries, nuts, and seeds. It’s most important function is to provide fat, protein, and calories during the winter months.

There are several “recipes” for suet for those who wish to make their own rather than purchase it.

Suet can be made available to birds through a variety of feeder options. The most common is a small metal cage with an opening on one side that the suet “cake” fits in. These metal cages also are available in various sizes and designs. A small chunk of log with holes drilled and filled with suet provides a more natural-looking feeder. Several large pine cones with suet in the cone bracts provide a natural looking feeder, and preparing them makes a great project for kids.



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