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Click to go to Audubon Society of Omaha Home Page Audubon Society of OmahaEastern Bluebird

Welcome to The Bluebird Box since 1995
Best of Bluebird Mailing Lists Classified

Suet (Part 1)

Also see Feeders, Feeding, Feeding Philosophy, Feeding Frequency, Feeding Mealworms, Feeding and Raising Mealworms, Mealworm Suppliers, Feeding Berries, Feeding Seeds, Feeding Prepared, Diet (What Bluebirds Eat), Feeding Emergency, Feeding Other, Feeding Planting, and Feeding Seasons.


Subj: Suet
Date: 10/12/99 8:35:33 AM Central Daylight Time
To: BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu (BLUEBIRD-L"at"cornell.edu)

In regard to finding suet - I have been making my own cake for years. When I need suet, I call the local supermarket, tell them I will be in the next day, and could they please get 10 or 12 pounds of suet ready for me. I ask them to grind it for me if they have time. If not, I have my own grinder. I pay 25 cents a pound for it. I mix all kinds of stuff with it, depending on what's around. Bird seed, raisins, dried fruit (chopped fine), stale graham crackers, peanut butter or peanuts. I usually end up with 30 or 40 8 ounce cakes. One cake will last about 2 days.

Lynn in Pa.


Subj: Re: suet recipe
Date: 10/21/99 11:17:49 AM Central Daylight Time
From: copper"at"npoint.net (Bob & Lois Coppernoll)

Bob Coppernoll, Rural Central Illinois, 35 BB houses

Regarding making suet. It is not necessary to "make" suet. I get suet from the local meat market, usually the fat around the kidney. If you get the whole chunk of fat that comes around the kidney it will be 15 to 20 lbs. Cut it into slabs a couple of inches thick for feeding and save the unneeded in your freezer or put out more suet feeders. Put the cut slabs in your feeder without any other fuss such as melting or putting in seeds. I use an onion or potato sack for feeders and hook them each on a long (24") "S" hook and hang it from the eve trough by a window view. Keeps the animals off unless they can get on your roof. This is a simple and easy way to feed suet. If you want to feed seeds then use a seed feeder. Seed feeders can also be hung by an S hook from the eves.

When you melt the suet it is then rendered into fat.

Good Birding
Bob


Subj: Suet crazy
Date: 10/21/99 8:57:10 PM Central Daylight Time
From: hubertrap"at"webtv.net (Joe Huber)

Joe Huber Venice Fl.-- Formerly Ohio The list has gone suet crazy all of a sudden. We saved the suet from a side of beef or hind quarter every year. Suet is suet that comes in huge solid chunks from cattle. That is what I always liked best to feed birds. Mixtures always seemed to attract more starling at my place. Hot weather does make pure suet rancid so I stopped using it during warm weather. Another method of offering suet or mixes is to cut off a tree branch about 14" long. Choose one about 1-1/2 diameter and drill several holes in it about half way through. Use a 1/2" to 3/4" wood bit. Screw a eye bolt or cup hook in one end to hang it. Then stuff the holes full of your suet. The clinging birds love these. If you see Bluebirds eating seeds its most likely not helping them nourish there body. Seeds pass through them undigested. Years ago when I had their droppings identified from a winter roosting box there were a few millet seeds. All others were seeds from berries. These seeds if planted will grow so nothing was absorbed from them. The Bluebirds that fed in the winter at my feeders chose small crumbs of suet. Up to pea size. I knew when they were coming so thats when a couple of tablespoonful were put out along with wild berries. Joe



Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 12:41:51 -0700
From: "Lonn and Linda"
Subject: Suet placement and Big Bird

I read in the past that suet can be made into varied and differing shapes and containers. One thing for certain. Do not leave whole seed in it! Use a sunflower heart (chips) as the birds stick in their faces to crack the seed hulls and end up with a greasy face which attracts the mites that can be deadly and uncomfortable to the bird. Also, if you have a lot of big crows, jay birds or other large consumers put a dummy piece of whole lard and hang it away from the birds you came to feed. I have sometimes just fried some bacon and took the grease from the pan, drilled a few holes in a branch and poured it in and that's a treat for
my feathered ones.I'm planning the Bluebird suet feast this year some time soon but I've never got to see the WEBL in the winter.
Lonn in Roseburg, Oregon

Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2000 11:10:55 -0500
From: Joyce Sobey jsobey"at"erols.com
Subject: Bluebirds and Suet

I keep peanut butter suet out all year long and while I've had my bluebirds sit on the line and look at it, I've never seen one, even in bad weather, eat the suet. Believe it or not, I've not had luck getting them to eat mealworms, either. They look at them, but they don't swoop down on them and gobble them down. Usually the mealworms escape and I don't bother tracking where they go :-)) Maybe my bluebirds like free-range worms as opposed the ranch-raised! Who knows!

All my other backyard birds go for the suet (chickadees, nuthatches, titmouse, woodpeckers), even in the summer.

Joyce Sobey, Powhatan, VA

statton wrote:

Chris Statton
NW PA

Fawzi ... Robins (and bluebirds) stay here all winter, too. Large numbers
can be found, even in the snowiest of weather, in the woods. They tend to
stay there where the tree canopy and evergreens somewhat protect the forest
floor. Over winter, they will flip the dead leaves on the forest floor and
find good insect resources nestled among those insulating leaves. Last
summer, several robins discovered my suet log in the backyard. Now, they
occasionally still come to the yard for a munch on the peanut butter 'suet'.

A dozen blues are in our snowy yard today munching suet and mealworms.


From: "Dan McCue" dmccue"at"usit.net
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2001 21:24:28 -0600
Subject: Re: [bluebird] suet cakes

...I make my own suet cakes and my Blues will not eat the junk that Walmarts and these commercial companies make. I keep my BB feeder filled with it summer and winter. Of course, they eat it far more in the fall & winter but do eat some during the nesting cycle. But since they are on a protein diet, they still will go into the feeder and eat the suet. If you want I will send it to you. Had it on the list a couple of times in the past 3 years. I'll send it to you privately, It is great and my friend took a picture of his feeder with 8 Blues on it at the same time in the early fall of the year. Just let me know. Happy Bluebirding,

Dan McCue in Camden, TN. 75 miles due west of Nashville on the Tennessee
River in West TN....


From: "Stan Merrill, St. Paul, MN" stan_bb"at"Messagez.com
Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2001 5:51 PM
Subject: Re: [bluebird] suet cakes

Better yet, EveryBIRDie,
find a source of suet cakes that are cheap enough you can feed all your birds want.

At a local elevator and at Fleet Supply, I can get suet cakes for 99-cents per cake! Compare that with $1-2+ range!

Happy sueting!

Stan


From: "Nancy Van Note" stormyspal"at"hotmail.com
Subject: SUET
Date: Wed, 09 Jan 2002 18:02:01 -0500

Hi! Anyone out there have a good recipe for homemade suet?

Nancy
Jackson NJ


Date: Wed, 09 Jan 2002 20:10:40 -0400
From: Haleya Priest mablue"at"gis.net
Subject: Re: SUET

Nancy,
You can click on: http://birds.cornell.edu/bluebirds/feeding.htm
And you'll find a great recipe for "Bluebird Banquet" (created by one of our own - Linda Janilla) and other info on feeding bluebirds. Best of luck! :-) H


Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2002 06:33:57 -0800 (PST)
From: Evelyn Ford eafrn"at"yahoo.com
Subject: Suet question

I found a suet block with insects at Wild Birds Unlimited called Bird Bug Bites. Containes: Beef suet, millet, corn and dehydrated insects. It's pricey, $3.29, so I only picked up one. Sometimes I get behind on making my homemade suet for the bluebirds and it's nice to have something else on hand that I can use before I catch up. Whenever I'm cooking/baking/mixing, my husband asks, "is that for us or the birds?" :) Has anyone used this kind of suet? ...

Evelyn
zone 6 southern MO


Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2002 11:20:56 EDT
From: "Rwatts" rwatts"at"mymailstation.com
Subject: Re:Suet question

I found a suet block with insects at Wild Birds Unlimited called Bird Bug Bites. Containes: Beef suet, millet, corn and dehydrated insects. It's pricey, $3.29, so I only picked up one.

One year the feed store had quite a number of suet/seed blocks which had gotten miller moths or something in them, and I bought up the lot for a pittance! And oddly enough, the birds LOVED them!!

Hm... How about sweeping up the bugs under the bug zapper and stirring them into the next batch of suet??

Rhonda


From: "Ruter" FourRuters"at"cinci.rr.com
Subject: Suet w/pepper?
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 13:31:39 -0500

List - I recall reading somewhere that there is a 'hot' spice that could be put in suet that would keep the starlings away and it would not both the woodpeckers. Does anyone know what that spice might be and if it works?

Thanks!
Tabitha - West Chester, Ohio


From: m-r-sumner"at"juno.com
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:25:12 -0500
Subject: Re: Suet w/pepper?

I do not think this will work.
From what I have seen all birds will eat hot spice.

Maynard Sumner
Flint, MI

...

Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 18:37:18 EDT
From: "Rwatts" rwatts"at"mymailstation.com
Subject: Re:Suet w/pepper?

List - I recall reading somewhere that there is a 'hot' spice that could be put in suet that would keep the starlings away and it would not both the woodpeckers. Does anyone know what that spice might be and if it works?

I know this is supposed to work on squirrels, but not sure if it's effective on starlings--try powdered cayenne pepper. You may be able to get it in bulk (like a 1 to 5 lb. box, as opposed to the grocery store size!) in a vet or horse catalogue. It's used to keep horses from chewing woodwork, bandages, etc.

I've mixed it with sunflower seed (just coating the shells). It helps some in discouraging squirrels, but if they're hungry enough they'll still eat it.

Rhonda Watts
Wilton, N.H.


Subject: RE: Suet w/pepper?
Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 08:54:54 -0500
From: "Alicia Craig" craiga"at"wbu.com

Suet treated with pepper is designed to help keep the squirrels from eating the suet. It does not seem to keep the starlings off the feeder. Birds do not 'taste' the hot in the hot pepper.

To help keep starlings off the suet feeder, try a log feeder with no perches and put pure rendered suet in the feeder. Try the upside down feeder. While the birds can still reach the suet, they (starlings) don't seem to be able to cling for very long.

I have multiple suet feeders and rarely have a problem with starlings. Here is a piece I wrote a while ago about hot pepper.

In the quest to find things that the squirrels don't eat, many people are looking for an easy fix to an ongoing problem.

Tests done at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to determine whether or not squirrels would eat the treated seed, showed that eventually the squirrels will learn to eat the capsicum-treated birdseed if there is nothing else available to eat. The effect that capsicum-treated seed had on squirrels included mouth irritation, but no long-term effect. Unfortunately there is not enough research about the effect capsicum-treated birdseed has on birds.

A study on the effect of Capsicum-treated seed on poultry done by the Department of Animal Science at Cornell University showed that egg production was reduced in hens fed only treated feed during a five month time period. The facilitators of the study believe that birds which are fed a variety of foods normally found in their diet and that includes some capsicum-treated seed would potentially not be negatively affected by the treated seed.

Because the results of the effect capsicum has on wild birds has not yet been completely determined, Wild Birds Unlimited prefers to help people find alternative solutions to deal with squirrels at their birdfeeders. Baffles and birdfeeders when placed properly can effectively deter squirrels. Squirrel resistant birdfeeders can help people enjoy birds at their feeders while keeping the squirrels from monopolizing the feeder.

Alicia Craig
Senior Manager, Nature Education...


From: "Paula" PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com
Subject: feeding fall/winter
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 08:50:13 -0400

Just thought I'd post the little thrill I got this morning to see two pairs of bluebirds (two females and two males) at my feeder all puffed out (cold morning here in central Ohio) wondering where the food was.  I have not fed them mealworms since mid-summer, but they had been hunting for food in my yard and yards around me.  I had fleetingly seen them since nesting and heard them often in the trees.  It was just fun to see the two pairs together again - giving up their territorial disputes and looking for food.

I have started putting out Bluebird Banquet - recipe I got off one of websites.  I had to adjust the suet amount a little (doubled it in fact) to get the right sized nuggets that the blues love.  I fed this all last winter and had as many as 6 bluebirds packed into a small plexiglass fronted mealworm feeder with 3 others waiting their turn in the tree. Unfortunately, the sparrows were making a meal of the stuff too and fun to see male EABL threaten them with open beak.  ...


From: "Paula" PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com
Subject: Bluebird Banquet
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 09:21:56 -0400

For those interested, the recipe along with nutritional analysis can be found at: http://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/ljrecipe.htm. Linda Janilla Peterson developed it and my blues love it in fall/winter although they turn up their little beaks at it when insects are plentiful (as we would all hope/expect).  I buy rendered suet cake from Wild Birds Unlimited along with the sunflower seed chips and peanut hearts needed. Other birds love this too - carolina wrens, chickadees frequent the feeder. Unfortunately, so do HOSP and EUST.
...

 I will go ahead and post the recipe with my notes here as well.

 BLUEBIRD BANQUET RECIPE
In large bowl, combine:
1 cup peanut butter
4 cups yellow cornmeal (be careful when buying this at the grocery store - you want plain cornmeal, not cornmeal mix which contains baking powder)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup fine sunflower seed chips (I get at Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU))
1 cup peanut hearts (WBU)
1/2 - 1 cup zante currants (you can find these in baking section of grocery store.  1/2 box of currants is approximately 1 cup.  Original recipe says you can cut raisins in half as alternative.)
Now squish all the above incredients together with your hands. 
This is great fun for kids too.

In microwave, I use a 2-cup glass pyrex measuring cup to melt about 2 cups of rendered suet (WBU).  Now drizzle suet over mixture and squish away. If kids are helping, I would do this part myself as suet is hot.  You will end up with a food that is mostly pea-sized chunks and this is the size morsel those picky blues love.  If it is too crumbly (i.e. too small a morsel), they will not be pleased with the result and will request that the chef add a little more suet.

This recipe is wonderfully easy and makes a lot of food.  I store mine in the used plastic suet containers in my garage which is cool in fall/winter. In warmer climates, refrigeration would be wise.  My blues and other birds easily go through a cup or two of this a day when the snow flies.

Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio


From: "Haleya Priest" mablue"at"gis.net
Sent: Monday, October 13, 2003 5:03 PM
Subject: Re: feeding fall/winter Paula,  Can you say more about the rendered suet from WBU? I spend a huge amount of time melting my suet down from scratch. :-)


From: "Paula" PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com
Subject: Re: feeding fall/winter
Date: Mon, 16:05 PM

Haleya, Sure.  A 28 oz. tub of "Simply Suet" from WBU costs $4.79.  It is just rendered suet - just melt and voila.  This is enough to make about two batches of the Bluebird Banquet.  It comes in a nice little plastic tub with flip open lid that makes great container for finished product too.

Paula


From: "Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana"
Subject: Fw: feeding fall/winter
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 20:05:41 -0500

I get a huge tub of lard at Wal-mart for less than $5.   This is what I use in the banquet instead of suet.  I don't melt it.


From: "Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana"
 Subject: Re: feeding fall/winter
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 10:09:41 -0500

I get all my ingredients at Wal-mart (cheapest I can find) and follow the same recipe except I don't use the suet in it and I use crunchy peanut butter and oatmeal also.   After I mix it all up--it smells great--I put it in the Wal-mart bags and freeze it.   I use mine in my feeder tray.   I dump a whole bag full in the tray and it's gone in a day.   The birds can't get enough of it.  The Red Headed woodpeckers are addicted to it. In the winter, I use suet in the suet feeders.
Dottie, Hickory Hollow   Brown County, Indiana


From: ken"at"wildlanders.com, ken"at"wildlanders.com
Sent: Monday, March 01, 2004 3:55 AM
Subject: dried beef meat suet cakes (alternative to mealworms)

I have had some folks talking about using red meat instead of mealworms in suet cakes on one of the Idaho forums. Was wondering what other do here on bluebird-l? I use one meat recipe here. In essence, it is just pemmican. Dry the meat to remove the water (water causes spoiling and rancidity), chip it up (like bacon bits) and then add it to melted beef kidney fat/suet with some sunflower seeds. I am exploring some new suet recipes for my suet cake business and would just like to see what others are feeding their birds.

-Ken

ken"at"wildlanders.com



From: Anne-Marie Palermino, ampalermino"at" msn.com
Sent: Monday, March 01, 2004 6:19 AM
Subject: Re: dried beef meat suet cakes (alternative to mealworms)

Ken I make my own suet cakes for the birds.  Corn meal, suet (I make my own rendered suet, peanut butter, peanut hearts (peanut halves put in the food processor), Zante currents).  They love it (great bait for starlings too...). I have experimented with whole safflowers, ground up safflower hearts, raisins (regular size) and they don't like it as much. I also make bluebird banquet food (same as suet cakes with less suet) and have mixed in meat, uncooked fat from beef or lamb and birds love it.  HOSP came out of nowhere for it (only time I saw them this winter) Regards Anne-marie

From: ken"at"wildlanders.com, ken"at"wildlanders.com
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 2:45 AM
Subject: Anti-starling suet feeder using suet cage and pop bottle

... I have been observing the starlings and working on some ideas of an anti-starling suet feeder. Here is one of several I have come up with so far: http://www.wildlanders.com/wildlanders/aaaasp/birding/suetfeeder.asp The principle is based on the physical characteristics of the starling. Woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches do not have to use their wings to navigate up a vertical slope. So what I have done here is place a "wing guard" around the suet cage and mount it up inside the guard so that birds have to climb up vertically into it. Hope it helps.


From: JOHN & BARBARA SIBIO [mailto:jsibio"at"comcast.net]
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 12:49 PM
Subject: Bluebird banquet

I need a quick and easy recipe for bluebird banquet, please!  I don't usually feed them, but it's so cold this spring I think this might help them.  I've tried meal worms in the past, and the California sun just dries them up instantly, so it was a waste.  I bought the freeze-dried kind next, but they don't seem interested in them, although somebody did eat them eventually.  Any suggestions would be appreciated, as it has gotten cold and damp here. Barbara in Cloverdale, CA


From: RJFandal"at"aol.com
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 12:54 PM
Subject: Re: Bluebird banquet

Here is Linda Janilla Peterson's: http://www.audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/ljrecipe.htm Tammi Pearl River, LA


From: Bet Zimmerman
Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 9:39 AM
Subject: RE: Bluebird banquet

I've posted every bluebird suet recipe I've found at http://www.sialis.org/suet.htm.  Malinda's recipe is great - you should see photos she gets of bluebirds chowing on it in a log feeder. Bet


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2004 12:54 AM
Subject: Feeding Bluebird Banquet

The Bluebird Banquet recipe (and others) posted are wonderful food sources during cold weather, but if other EABL are like mine, once the temperatures climb to above 40 degrees (i.e. when the insects become a little active), they will shun this supplemental food. I go through about 3 cups of the Bluebird Banquet at my feeders during really cold days from November through March. Now is the time to feed mealworms if you want to feed anything at all. I offer them as a little treat, but not a major food source. They have plenty of insects to eat in the wild from now until next November in my area. Keep the recipe on file and use it when the weather gets cold. My birds love the stuff in the winter, but are turning up their discerning little beaks right now. Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio


From: Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana [mailto:yumyumkatts"at"voyager.net]
Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2004 11:35 PM
Subject: O/T Onion Bags as Suet Feeders

This on-line newsletter has a suggestion for a suet feeder using an onion bag.    I know birds can get caught in onion bags and not be able to get out.    I learned this the hard way as I had a downy woodpecker to get caught and freeze to death. These onion bags are not like the old onion bags we used to get.  These are like nylon and, if the birds get caught, they cannot get out. Just thought you would like to know what is being sent around.   See below: Dottie, Hickory Hollow
  Brown County, Indiana ....

From Christine Tarski ,your Editor and Guide, 249 West 17th Street, New York, NY, 10011

Christine Tarski - About.com Birding Guide
Your Guide to Birding / Wild Birds

More Easy Suet Feeder to Make

  • The easiest homemade suet feeder is the bag that onions come in from the store. This mesh bag is perfect - just drop in the suet, tie or band the top and hang outside.
  • If you can not find one of these onion bags, try stopping at a store that sells fabric. Get a half yard of the nylon netting with the largest holes. Cut the netting into 18 inch squares. Place the suet in the middle of a square, gather up the edges of the netting and tie around the suet securely with yarn, ribbon or string, leaving long ends. Use the yard, ribbon or string ends to tie to a tree branch, to a bush, or to an existing bird feeder in your yard.

From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 7:51 PM
Re: Bluebirds in Winter

Trudy, I will post this to the liist because someone else asked me for recipe too. I like to refer everyone to the website: http://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/ljrecipe.htm which has the original recipe - have to give credit where credit is due. I modify it a little bit. Instead of regular peanut butter, I use crunchy and then eliminate the peanut hearts in the recipe. I also double up on the suet. Definitely buy zante currants instead of cutting up raisins - can get currants at grocery store. Also, make sure you buy corn meal, and not corn meal mix (which has baking powder in it). I buy Simply Suet at Wild Birds Unlimited for the suet - simply heat in microwave in pyrex measuring cup to melt. You can also buy sunflower hearts there. Don't try feeding the stuff until it gets cold as they won't eat it when insects are plentiful. Paula



From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Monday, August 23, 2004 8:22 AM
Subject: RE: Hello from a new Bluebirder in TN!

Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas
There are LOTS of other species of birds who will also enjoy the Bluebird Banquet. Birds seem to prefer fresh made mixes over the ones that might be months old in stores. Keep your mix refrigerated in a sealed container and the bluebirds diet will shift more to fruits and berries after the first freeze. It often takes a while for bluebirds to start eating one of these mixes. Placing red berries from bushes or trees on or by the mix often get the bluebirds attention as they feed heavily on red berries during the winter. I believe Ron and Priscilla Kingston used cut limbs from a holly tree, loaded with berries to attract bluebirds to a new feeder for bluebirds.


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 4:04 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Cristy, Welcome and great job these past two years! Don't worry about talking about bluebirds here. This is the one place where we want to hear all you wish to say. When my husband tells me to stop bending his ear about the #"at"! birds, I just sulk on into the computer room and write to all of you... We have similar situations it seems as I live in fully developed neighborhood too. I only have 1/3 of an acre, but did had two pairs nesting simultaneously one time because I have my big old people house blocking their view of each other. Usually I only have one pair nesting, but the other box acts as an excellent HOSP interceptor when not in use by a native nester. I even put up a third box in the side yard this summer to catch more HOSP and the EABL decided to use this one for their last nesting because a Red Tailed Hawk kept perching on their other one. I also installed a fourth chickadee (1 1/8" hole so HOSP cannot get in) box in the tree line this spring. One thing I have done that I would highly recommend is to ask neighbors who are at least 100 yards away to install a box that you help monitor (i.e. remove the HOSP for them). You can make a gift of a box if you are so inclined, but my boxes are only given with the understanding that strict HOSP control will be employed, either by them or me. Winter is actually one of my favorite times to observe EABL because I feed them Bluebird Banquet all winter. They will only eat it when temperatures get below 40 degrees or so - when insects are no longer plentiful. They eat a lot of it (about 1 or 2 cups a day) and other birds love it as well - all the woodpeckers, tufted titmice, carolina chickadees, white breasted nuthatch, etc. Recipe can be found at: http://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/ljrecipe.htm Last winter, I had 5-7 coming on regular basis to eat, but counted 19 one blustery, freakish snowy day in March. In the winter, they don't require their territorial nesting boundaries so you can get a whole flock together tolerating each other. It is great fun to watch and fun to observe as spring gets closer and you see a dominant male making his stand at the feeder and chasing the others away.


From: Fultons [mailto:thefultons"at"everestkc.net]
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 6:23 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Paula, Thanks for the response. Do you buy the bluebird banquet or do you make it? I was wondering, can you get a regular suet cake from a bird store and melt it down to make the recipe? I would rather do something like that then go to the butcher and get the fat. I bought these suet snacks, but I'm thinking they won't like them too well. . ... Thanks Cristy LEnexa KS


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 8:38 PM
e: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Cristy, most grocery stores sell suet in their meat departments. Saves a trip to a butcher shop. Woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, & titmouses will eat the "grocery store" suet, without anything else being done to it. Just throw the suet into a homemade or bought suet feeder and get out of the way. In my limited experience of providing supplemental food for Bluebirds, they do not particular like the "bought" banquet. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: BluebirdsEm"at"aol.com [mailto:BluebirdsEm"at"aol.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 2004 1:28 PM
Subject: Fwd: New to bluebirding-a few questions -SUET

We have been feeding birds in the Midwest for almost 50 years.   Every species of birds in the area come to our feeders.   We do not have any house sparrows as we do not use millet in the feeders. We also have fed a variety of homemade and store-bought suet in a suet holder. We are avid Bluebirders.   We are county coordinators and board member of BRAW (Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin).   And, we give weekly Bluebird presentations in 4 grade schools, as well as monitor several other trails. We feed our bluebirds mealworms (some homegrown,  some store-bought). One day we ran out of mealworms.   The bluebirds were flocking to the suet. So, we bought a supply of that particular brand and type (the only one that the Bluebirds like). That is: Kaytee,Orange Suet Dough.   The bluebirds still come daily for the suet. The bluebirds will probably leave our area in about a week. Em & Ev Eau Claire WI


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 2004 1:40 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Cristy, I make it myself. I have heard rendering your own suet can be quite the project - don't know. I like to do things as easily as possible. What I do is buy "Simply Suet" from Wild Birds Unlimited. It is an already rendered chunk of suet. I melt about 2 cups in a pyrex 2-cup measure in the microwave. I actually double up on suet from original recipe because it seems to make the pea sized morsels that the EABL just love. If it is too crumbly, they are not as fond of it. Wild Birds also sells sunflower hearts (part of recipe). They sell the peanuts, but you have to food process them to get them down to chip size. I actually don't put peanuts in my mix. Instead, I substitute crunchy peanut butter in the recipe and get them in there that way. Zante currants can be found in raisin or baking section of the grocery store. I prefer these over raisins because they are smaller and the blues eat them fine. The larger raisins may need cutting up, and I like to keep things as simple as possible. When buying corn meal, make sure to get plain old corn meal and not corn meal mix which has baking powder in it. I use whole wheat flour in recipe. It makes a good sized batch and smells wonderful - doesn't taste bad either :) I tried some sort of bluebird pellet food last year that a friend gave me. It was a store bought food. They ate it, but seemed to prefer the stuff I mix up. ...Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 2004 10:40 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Paula, et al, I just buy raw, fresh suet in the meat section of the supermarket, and put it out in wire suet cages. No fuss, no hassle, no melting down. It's suet just as it comes off the beef animal., white and hard. I'd never mess with these manufactured "suet cakes." Bruce Burdett, SW NH


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 16, 2004 10:53 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Bruce, Will the EABL eat suet out of a cage? It seems this would work great for woodpeckers, but I think the EABL may be a bit more finicky. If it works for you, I'll give it a try. Paula


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2004 1:02 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Lana, The suet from Wild Birds melts to a pure liquid. You then mix it with the other ingredients in the recipe and you end up with pea sized morsels. I feed the stuff in my mealworm feeders. I have two. The barn jailhouse style feeder from Jenna Bird at http://jennabird.easystorecreator.com/ seems favored by all the birds and it is a fun feeder because you can have 10 EABL belly up to the bar shoulder to shoulder with some inside the feeder. The problem with this design is that once starlings find it (and they will), look out. I have been told that you can make it fairly starling proof by installing a strip of wood about halfway up feeder on both sides to keep them from being able to access it. Fawzi and Haleya have developed what looks to me to be an excellent design if you want to make one yourself. It is on my list of things to do. If I were actually to build the feeder though, I would make it at least twice as long as shown to accomodate even more birds at once. Their design is at http://home.comcast.net/~femad/p2/feeder.htm I also have a small plexiglass bluebird mealworm feeder which is starling proof IF you remove the little perch platforms that are found just under the entry holes. It is more difficult to see the EABL feeding in this feeder and they appear a little more skittish when using it because their exits are limited to the two holes where the other feeder has multiple entry/exit locations. I have seen 7 EABL packed into this small feeder at one time though. You could also just use platform feeder or dish, but EUST will mob you eventually. It is important to note, I think, that if your EABL have not learned to use a mealworm feeder this past spring/summer, I doubt they will find their way to the food this winter. It is easy to attract and train them to use a mealworm feeder during nesting season, but I would think it would be much more difficult during winter months. My EABL know where the feeders are. Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2004 12:00 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Paula, et al, I have never seen a Bluebird eat raw suet from a cage or feeder. But I'm a poor example because we never have seen a single Bluebird in our yard, ever, and we only feed in our yard. Our yard is a clearing in a heavily wooded area. Bruce Burdett


From: Maynard R Sumner [mailto:m-r-sumner"at"juno.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2004 8:55 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

I have Bluebirds come into my cage feeder. Maynard Sumner Flint, MI


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2004 10:41 AM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Maynard, are they eating just plain suet, or is the Bluebird banquet in the feeder? In my experience, Bluebirds will NOT eat plain suet, no matter what the feeder. If they are eating plain suet, sure would like to know your secret! I have mixed plain suet with mealies & berries in the bluebird feeder. The Bluebirds carefully pick out the berries & mealies, leaving the suet. I have also omitted the mealies, letting them have just the suet, and they still ignore it. Thanks! Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2004 2:33 PM
RE: New to bluebirding-a few questions

Making your own suet is not hard. Birds in my area will take homemade over store bought any day. Except bluebirds - I've been trying to teach them to eat it for 2 years now, with no success so far (I put a little container next to the mealworms when the weather gets cold). Others (e.g., Malinda - her recipe is on the link below) have bluebirds all over their suet. All the recipes I've ever seen (including banquet) are posted at http://www.sialis.org/suet.htm Bet from CT


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2004 2:52 PM
RE: New to bluebirding-a few questions

I suggest you don't put out mealworms if you want them eat anything else. Mealworms are like ice cream to and they will fill up on them. I only feed stewed, chopped raisins and I make a big ball of crunchy peanut butter with oatmeal mixed until it is stiff. They go through about 4 big balls through the winter and love the raisins. I tried feeding mealworms and other things at the same time and they only ate the mealworms. Evelyn Cooper Delhi, LA


From: Haleya Priest [mailto:mablue"at"gis.net]
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2004 6:56 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions Haleya Priest, Amherst MA

I agree with Evelyn on this. Once they get "spoiled" on mealies it is hard to get them to eat anything else. I did "train" mine to eat bluebird banquet, but they'd always munch down the mealies first. In fact, if I started from scratch, I'd get mine to eat raisins or just banquet. It sure is easier and less expensive than mealies. :-) H


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 8:31 AM
Subject: Fall/Winter Feeding

Last night I mixed up my first batch of Bluebird Banquet of the season. I set it out in the feeders. This morning, I looked out the back window and saw 5 EABL at the feeder. I had been throwing just a few mealworms in there periodically, but had not seen that many blues at the feeder at one time since last winter. They do really like the stuff apparently. It took me all of 5 minutes to mix up, so no big chore either. Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio


From: Nancy Bocian [mailto:msboc"at"charter.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 10:30 AM
Subject: Bluebird banquet

Anyone have any idea how long the bluebird banquet would keep if it's been refrigerated? I know peanut butter doesn't go bad; what about Crisco? What's the longest anyone has kept it? I have a huge batch in double sealed baggies which is at least a year old but smells totally fine. Nancy


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 10:41 AM
Subject: Fw: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Paula, Your last statement that "Crisco is a vegetable shortening - no protein" caught my attention. Shortening has no protein because it is a fat, NOT because is it is a vegetable product. Non-animal products can have fairly high levels of protein, such as whole wheat flour, which can have 12 - 17% protein, depending upon which wheat berry is used. And of course, many cultures live on beans & cornbread, another protein diet without animal products. But, to get back to our beloved Bluebirds, most birds need quite a bit of fat. According to "NatureKeeper's", the fat in beef suet is not as easily digested as the fat in vegetable shortening. Also, beef suet doesn't have much protein either - it's a fat, especially when it's been rendered. Since "NatureKeeper's" sells suet cakes, they may not be unbiased in their statement that vegetable shortening is a better source of energy than beef suet. Their website lists the nutritional values of both fats. http://www.natureskeepers.com/suet_vs_veg_fat.html Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 10:50 AM
Subject: Re: Bluebird banquet

I store my homemade suet mix, formed into softball-sized balls, in the freezer. They last for months that way. Cher


From: JoAnn Gossett [mailto:supertiger"at"bellsouth.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 11:51 AM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

To all, I've found that using Lard is excellent for the bluebird banquet. I haven't made any yet here. I've tried the commercial suet blocks and both times I've had to throw them out. None of the birds liked them. I am going to try making the banquet to see what happens. If that doesn't work I think that means there is enough natural food for them. Mealworms have gone over great, though I don't really want to use them this winter. Regards, JoAnn Gossett


From: Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana [mailto:yumyumkatts"at"voyager.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 19, 2004 2:05 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

I get my lard at Wal-mart. A big tub for $2.98. Lard is OK for the birds since they use up so much energy. I use the store bought suet cakes in the summer as they don't "melt" like the real suet does when it's hot. The birds here seem to like them OK. Dottie, Hickory Hollow Brown County, Indiana


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 1:31 AM
Subject: Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Dottie, Thank you for the great link. Your post very enlightening and answers my question perfectly. I did not know fat had little or no protein in it. I just assumed that the suet did because it came from the beef animal and beef itself is full of protein - so just goes to show I know little about nutrition. I also did not know that whole wheat flour had protein in it. It sounds as though crisco may be a cheaper and healthier alternative to suet in making the Bluebird Banquet. I just bought quite a bit of suet, but will try the crisco when it is gone. As I looked at recipe on website http://audubon-omaha.org/bbbox/ljrecipe.htm I see she has a breakdown of the nutritional analysis of the food, but cautions it is intended as a supplemental food. Birds overwintering in my area will be eating a lot of wild berries I am sure and the Banquet should give them some extra energy to make it through the winter. Paula Z Powell (Central) OHio


From: Haleya Priest [mailto:mablue"at"gis.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 8:00 AM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet Haleya Priest Amherst MA

This is not directed to Paula or Dottie, or anyone in particular - but how in the world could Crisco be healthier than suet?????? If you need proof, maybe watch "Supersize Me" - a current documentary about a man who ate McDonalds for 30 days straight. By day 7 his doctors were alarmed at at some of the changes in his blood work and advised him to go off the "diet" immediately! I'd serve suet any day over crisco to my beloved bluebirds! :-) H


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 9:08 AM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Haleya's alarm over the Crisco vs. lard vs. suet question has resurrected some lingering questions I've long had over this issue. I use neither suet nor Crisco, but lard. The recipe I found called for lard and said, "Do not substitute". I've often wondered why - lard being pig fat, and suet being cow fat I wondered, what is the difference? I just went along with the lard suggestion because I abhor the stench of rendering suet from beef fat! Lard doesn't stink. Another resource I found for do-it-yourself bird suet recipes (not specifically Bluebird), says DO NOT SUBSTITUTE CRISCO or other hardened vegetable products, but does not say WHY NOT. A webpage for kids from the San Diego Zoo gives a recipe for baking goodies for birds (all species), and suggests bacon drippings, or melted lard but says DO NOT use vegetable shortening, because it makes birds sick. - no further explanation. http://www.sandiegozoo.org/kids/craft_baker_for_birds.html However, many other recipes available suggest the use of Crisco-type products. Why the difference? Who's right? And what's the reasoning behind those who say not to use Crisco? Almost everyone agrees that birds need fat, especially in the colder temperatures. Where would they get it, if humans didn't provide it? Are bugs fatty? Berries? Some seeds and nuts are fatty, but Bluebirds don't eat seeds -- or is that another myth? As for the controversial "Supersize Me", I don't think any of us would argue that a steady diet of McDonalds would be healthy for any living creature. Too much fat of any kind isn't good, and fast food is dripping with every kind of fat you can think of -- vegetable and animal. Research ...... we need more research. Cher


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 9:46 AM
RE: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Well, I am still advocating that millions of years ago people were not making all these fancy little recipes and the bb's were very plentiful. They did not have peanut butter balls, suet recipes etc. that we are providing. If I had proof that peanut butter was damaging them, I would only feed raisins and have no problem doing it. I think we need to stick as close to what nature would provide as possible as like I said, they got along millions of years without our lard, Crisco, etc. Evelyn Cooper Delhi, LA Louisiana Bayou Bluebird Society


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 10:41 AM
Subject: Re: Bluebird banquet

Dear Nancy and friends,

Never use Crisco. Crisco is a hydrogenated oil product with unlimited shelf life, and is not fit to eat for man or beast.

To prove the point, let nature show you how eatable Crisco is by doing the Crisco test.

Buy a small can of Crisco, open the can, place the exposed Crisco face up in a conner in your barn, shed, or garage, and place tasty goodies (i.e. cheese, or natural peanut butter) in a tuna fish can next to the Crisco (goodies that you know mice and rats will eat.) Over the years you will see the goodies in the tuna fish can disappear, but you will never see any evidence that something is eating the Crisco. I will sometimes use Crisco in my workshop as a cheap lubricate, but never as a food product (and that include margarine too) as I prefer butter for eating, baking, etc.

It is better for you to mix beef suet (the best beef suet is found around the kidneys and your local butcher will be happy to cut it away from the kidneys for you at little to no cost) with other goodies or use the peanut butter (chunky style is best) recipes that you have seen posted.

Another thing about peanut butter. Look at the labels to see if any hydrogenlage oils (remember the Crisco) are added to the peanut butter. Go with natural peanut butter only.

If kept frozen, then thawed out in your refrigerator before feeding, there is no reason why you can not make loads of suet or peanut butter cake bars filled with raisins and other goodies, to be feed to your over wintering Bluebirds throughout the winter months and beyond

...

John Schuster
Wild Wing Company


From: Larry A Broadbent [mailto:rockets"at"mnsi.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 11:01 AM
Re: Bluebird banquet

Nancy and friends, I agree 100% with John Schuster's statement "Never use Crisco. Crisco is a hydrogenated oil product with unlimited shelf life, and is not fit to eat for man or beast." On the topic of using Lard or Bacon Fat : I say Never use Pig products! Pigs are Unclean for human compsumption and Not Kosher. Use Beef Suet! Yahweh Bless, Larry A Broadbent Chatham, ON


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 11:19 AM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Evelyn, Overall, I agree with you that birds have survived many years without our help. To help protect our environment, I use no pesticides, destroy exotic invasives, leave tree snags, and plant mainly natives. "Improve habitat" is my number 1 mantra. However, I think that there are times when we need to step in with a helping hand - such as controlling cats, starlings, and sparrows. And of course, many species, such as the Eagle and Sandhill Crane, definitely needed a temporary boost. I still haven't decided about supplemental feeding, as I'm not sure that there's enough concrete data to draw an assessment. By feeding only raisins, I think that sounds safe. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 11:37 AM
RE: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

I was referring to the "feeding thread". I think if we had not stepped in and helped with all other issues you mentioned, the recovery would not be what it is today. I have no problem with supplemental feeding, but my opinion was that to try to make it as near what they would eat anyway. Mine dearly love raisins. I never started out feeding mealworms, mixes or anything else, so they came to them eagerly. I added the peanut butter ball as I felt the protein helped. There's probably something in that would be frowned upon by some. Evelyn


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 11:41 AM
Re: Bluebird banquet

John, I happen to agree with you about Crisco. However, there is a Crisco product that has no trans-fats in it (don't ask me how they came up with it!) that many physicians are recommending to their heart patients. My point about the Crisco is, that some research has indicated that beef suet is not very digestible for birds. (Keith's point also - many species do NOT have the necessary enzymes to digest something that is completely healthy for another species). Like you, I usually rely on what the animals say. Just this morning, I tossed some millet on our patio, because it had been infected by a small green, grain worm. The Bluebirds spent several minutes searching through every grain, hunting for those tiny worms & eggs. Just a few feet away was raw suet (beef-kidney), mealworms, and Bluebird Banquet (made with rendered kidney suet) that would have been much easier pickings, but was completely ignored. Anecdotal evidence has to be interpreted carefully. Good suggestion about the natural peanut butter - also get organic if the wallet can afford it. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 11:57 AM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Boy, hasn't this been a fun discussion! Yes, Crisco is a cheaper, easier alternative to suet - but is it better? Some people don't feel that it is. I've always used just plain old beef suet from the grocery store, but I was never convinced that it's "healthy" for the birds. Therefore, we try to let nature "run amok" here, so that there's plenty of berries & insects for our feathered friends. Mom gave me some Crisco last year that I put out for the birds - just curious to see what would happen. I finally threw it away in May. I'm not sure what that proves, because I also threw away several different kinds of suet packs that were Christmas gifts. (maybe the birds just weren't "forced" into trying these new foods.) But even if the birds had devoured the Crisco and suet packs, that still doesn't "prove" that they are healthy products, as starving animals will eat almost anything. Or in the case of some humans, they don't even have to be starving to eat that fast-food junk :-) Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 12:16 PM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Evelyn, Until late last winter, I had never fed the Bluebirds anything. Of course, suet and raisins were always out for the other birds. The Blues would come into the heated birdbath, grab any insects that happened by, look at the raisins & suet, & fly off. I decided to expand my feeding efforts by whipping up some Bluebird Banquet, just for the Blues. They ignored it as much as they did the raisins. All of this occurred BEFORE I ever started feeding mealworms. Maybe they're getting enough insects - our winters have been mild. Do you soak the raisins in water to "plump" them up? Maybe, I'll try again this winter. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (central - zone 5)


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 12:58 PM
RE: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Dottie, there is one thing for sure at my place, if there are insects moving, they ignore the raisins. (Except for this pair this year and I already mentioned they had to have their one or two daily) I would wait until the sharpest cold snap and they would eagerly come get the raisins. I always stew the raisins and even chop them into because they are always so big and plump. However, after seeing that baby bluebird swallow that big "whatever" in that video about what goes on in a nestbox, I am sure they can swallow them whole. Evelyn


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 10:47 AM
Re: New to bluebirding-a few questions/suet

Dear JoAnn and friends, Lard will melt when temperatures start to climb, but suet has a higher melting point. However, we are entering the winter months, so lard is A-OK to use. Cheers and as always... Happy Bluebird Trails To You, John Schuster Wild Wing Company


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 5:51 PM
Subject: Suet Vs. Vegetable Shortening

I started something here, but I'm learning a lot. I decided to contact Linda Janilla Peterson myself to see what her opinion is. She is the one who developed the Bluebird Banquet recipe. She tried all three fat sources during her study: crisco, lard (pig fat) and suet (beef fat) and found that the wild bluebirds preferred the suet in the mix. She also reminded me that the food was definitely supplemental and the birds will be eating mostly wild natural food sources. But, you can read her response for yourself below as she gave me permission to post it. Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio

Paula, Thanks for your note and the link to the fat discussion. I am not a scientist. I did consult the bird curator at the Minnesota Zoo, and "Lakes Minnesota Macaws, Inc" [specialty bird feeding] when developing the recipe. Experts can toss out all sorts of info that support their particular opinion. We see this all the time in trials with "expert witnesses" and in politics. Even scientifically backed research is open to discussion. So most of what I say is my opinion and I have no credentials other than years of bluebirding and birdfeeding, my career being a registered nurse. The MAIN point in any wild birdfeeding program - we are supplementing the birds diet. If we were responsible for 100% of a wild bird's diet - then in depth discussion of the nutrition we are offering would be critical. Studies using chickadees have shown that at the maximum - our offerings comprise 30% of their diet. The birds are basically using us as a fast food joint. Even when it seems that the birds are constantly at our feeders, such as during a winter storm - they are also eating their normally foraged foods at the same increase in quantity. We are supplementing their diet, or offering a short term emergency survival food. Birds in the wild will eat naturally occurring suet - it is common for all sorts of species [not just crows and vultures] to glean meat and fat from the bones & antlers of dead animals. In the wild, birds do not eat processed vegetable fats. It is also a point of controversy if humans should eat processed vegetable fats. When my daughter was small, her physician recommended avoiding ALL hydrogenated fats [that includes Crisco] - which can contribute to migraine headache suffering. The existence of health food companies/stores shows that there are controversies in human foods, too. So you can see, there is no answer to the question. Birds do need fat, for the various reasons described in the article you found. What type of fat is best can be argued. I tend to believe that the article was chosen to support that particular companies selling points [shown by their words: premium, specialty, responsible feeding]. I think that they are appealing to a human's thought processes - just as most wild bird feeding companies and stores do [I worked 11 years managing a bird store here in Stillwater]. Remember, too, that the studies mentioned, and most bird nutrition studies are done for captive birds [pets, zoos, laboratories] who depend on the food for complete nutrition. So, I guess I never truly answered the question!!! I have used all 3 fats sources - Crisco, lard [which is pig] and beef suet. All work in the recipe with minor adjustments to flour to keep texture right. Minor storage differences - recipes mixed with Crisco is easier to handle when refrigerated, suet can go rancid if stored too warmly. When I did selection studies as described in my article - I settled on those chosen by the birds - wild free bluebirds. The final recipe incorporated the bird's choices in ingredients. So, enjoy feeding your birds! Be assured you are not killing them with your kind handouts! And thanks for writing. It's been quite a while since I developed the food and it's always fun to hear that people are still using it successfully. Linda Janilla Peterson Stillwater, Minnesota Paula, If you want to read more about the chikadee study I mentioned [and I stand corrected the percentage is even lower than 30% - ranged from14% to 29% with an average of 21% of their daily food requirements from birdfeeders].....go to this link and read the pdf file: Dynamics of Bird Feeding http://www.birdfeeding.org/dynamics.html


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 10:55 PM
RE: Suet Vs. Vegetable Shortening

Well, I did not mean for my remarks to be taken offensively. It may even be that my peanut butter is really on the same level as lard, suet and Crisco. None of us really know. I was just pointing out that many, many years ago they made it through the winter and their diets did not include this and that must be the way it was really intended to be. That is just a point I wanted to bring out. Since we have no real studies, we don't know for sure what effects it is having. I do think it is very important to supplement feed in the winter so they will know where food is available if there is a shortage. I have a vivid picture in my mind of 4 of them huddled together in a shed frozen to death. This was in 89 and I was not a bluebirder and had no idea they over-wintered here. There is food for them every cold day at my house! I don't guess Bluebirds (and others at the feeders) get cholesterol. :<)) Evelyn


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 11:25 PM
Re: Suet Vs. Vegetable Shortening Evelyn et al, Certainly no offense taken by me. This is a question that has always been at the back of my mind regarding suet mixes and it is great to get this much discussion so we can all learn a bit from each other. I have no big preferences or ideas one way of the other (does that make me a flip flopper?), but agree that supplemental feeding in the winter could save lives on very cold and/or icy days. It is good to learn that it is not their main food source too although they do gobble quite a bit of it. After all the discussion, I guess I'll stick with the suet in the mix. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 11:38 AM
Subject: Fat for birds: Where would they get it, if humans didn't provide it?"

Dear Cher and friends,

Birds have been on the planet for millions of years, and when winter sets in most migrate to more southern areas as did bison, elk, and deer.

Along with these large prey animals, Indians, wolves, bears, mountain lions, etc. also followed the large herds south. When a prey animal was killed by one of the above predators or died from illness, vultures, smaller birds and insects would clean up the carcass delivering the fat needed for survival.

Today, the bison, and elk are not so prevalent, but deer are still around as are sheep, and cattle all at some time or another die from something and the recycling process is renewed.

So give the birds what the need to survive (i.e. lard or suet) and stay away from inadequate substitutes that are not worth the cans they are packaged in. ...

John Schuster


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 8:49 PM
Subject: Crisco research Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

I don't think Crisco would actually make the bluebirds sick but I think it has the potential of not being digested by the bluebirds and thus becoming a laxative. I am sure many on this list remember being forced to drink castor oil for stomach aches as it was going to slide right on through the bowels. Horses are still given doses of mineral oil to help with colic. Since we have several on the list still trapping Starlings they should make a good bird to test these three recipes with. The starlings already LIKE the peanut butter mixes. They eat a very similar diet of insects and fruits and berries just like the bluebirds. Starlings hold up pretty well in captivity....KK


From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 8:08 AM

Subject: bluebirds eat naturally oily food Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas Bluebirds will eat peanut hearts, hulled sunflower seeds, cracked pecans and walnuts all very high in oil content. Jack Finch had dogwood berries analyzed and they have a high fat content and are rich in vitamins and amino acids. Dogwood berries are a favorite of bluebirds. Many animals and birds can convert sugars and starches from grain into fatty energy reserves. Vegetable cooking oils are extracted and designed to not break down after repeatedly being subjected to high heat in our pots and pans. This probably makes it harder for a bluebird to digest than a raw product that has not been so concentrated. The USDA was experimenting with more than 260 imported plants that could be used to produce vegetable cooking oil for Americans. The year was 1878. They were looking for a cheap substitute for imported Olive and Palm nut oil that the local American farmer could grow. They also worked on ways to prevent birds from eating these new oil cash crops. Today Niger, sunflower and safflower seeds are major suppliers of cooking oil in poor countries and bird seed in rich countries. Most of the cooking oils, vegetables, fruit, hay and grains we have in production today are from imported plants and the native birds and animals have adapted to eating what we leave behind in the fields. KK


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 8:47 AM
RE: bluebirds eat naturally oily food

Thanks Keith, this is fascinating! I'd never thought of berries as being fatty -- you learn something new every day. I guess that's why the dogwood berries out in the hedgerow appeared to have been picked over before those "other" berries. And I didn't know Blues would eat hulled sunflower, although I guess I did realize they would eat nuts, since my "suet" mix contains crunchy peanut butter, and they gobble that down like crazy! But now I'm going to have to start reading my PB labels for hydrogenated oils! What I've gleaned from this discussion -- correct me if I'm wrong -- is that Kosher concerns aside, if the Blues are already used to eating a recipe made with lard, there probably aren't any HEALTH reasons to change to suet instead -- however shortening is another story altogether. Cher


From: Fultons [mailto:thefultons"at"everestkc.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 9:13 AM
Re: bluebirds eat naturally oily food

The only PB I can find without the hydrogenated oil is SMUCKERS All Natural PB, it comes in both crunchy and creamy types. I have not looked at health food stores, tho. SMUCKERS is the only brand at your "regular" grocery stores. It's REALLY good too!!! Cristy Lenexa, Kansas


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 10:48 AM
ubject: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

Wow, did I just learn a lot! That document on wild bird feeding a http://www.birdfeeding.org/dynamics.html provides objective information that responds to so many of the concerns that have been raised on BBL about feeding. Paula, good thinking to contact JL Peterson! I've made a bunch of updates to my suet webpage to capture the BBL info provided. I "boiled" it down to this (which won't satisfy anti-Crisco folks - I'd like to see something scientific on whether vegetable shortening really DOES make birds sick before dismissing it.) "(Beef) Suet vs. (Pig) Lard vs. Vegetable Shortening: All work in suet recipes, as long as you adjust the dry ingredients (e.g., flour) to keep the texture crumbly. Beef suet may turn rancid. It has some protein in it, while vegetable shortening (like Crisco) does not. Both suet and vegetable shortening have about the same amount of calories and fat content. Beef suet has more saturated fat which may be harder to digest. At least one source indicates vegetable shortening can make birds sick. JL Peterson found bluebirds preferred recipes made with suet." Bet from CT http://www.sialis.org/suet.htm


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 1:08 PM
RE: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

Is Tallow Seed considered in the vegetable oil group? Bluebirds eat Tallow Seed in So LA. I donít have time to research it. -


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 1:29 PM
RE: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

I have a link to that San Diego Zoo.org page that didn't provide more info - http://www.sandiegozoo.org/kids/craft_baker_for_birds.html . It has a recipe for suet muffins, and just says "1 cup bacon grease (drippings), melted but not too hot; you can use melted lard instead, but DO NOT use vegetable shortening, because it makes birds sick." With regard to "tallow seed" are you talking about tallow seed (from Chinese Tallow, an invasive plant), seed oil tallow, or something else? Chinese tallow kernels produce an oil called stillingia oil that is used in machine oils, as a crude lamp oil, and in making varnishes and paints. (per USGS.gov) Then there's beef tallow.... Bet


From: Evelyn Cooper [ mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com ]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 1:43 PM
Subject: RE: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

Yes, it is Chinese Tallow, an invasive plant. It is found in Southern Louisiana especially in the Atchafalaya Basin and the Bluebirds eat it. If it is in the vegetable family and the birds tolerate it looks like the other vegetable products could be tolerated. Hey, this is just me thinking out loud.

I wonder how they know it made the birds sick.

Evelyn


From: PTom [ mailto:ptom"at"austin.rr.com ]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 2:32 PM
Subject: Re: Suet vs. vegetable shortening: Chinese Tallow

I don't have an answer on why birds could eat and tolerate one vegetable product and not another. The discussion of Chinese Tallow did prompt me to go back to a passionate soapbox post I made on Bluebird-L in February 2003.

The Message from the heart was ... Tallow has caloric value to bluebirds.

BUT, even IF a product from an invasive non-native plant species is valuable to bluebirds, as responsible convervationists we need to look at cooperating with other conservationists in working to destroy the invasive non-native plant species. (Conservationists in areas where the tree is spreading are giving blood, sweat, tears, weekends and money to remove the tree.) And, we can work towards a balance by planting native plants that produce berries that bluebirds eat.

Sometimes a little bit of an invasive non-native species is okay, and we and other species might benefit for a time. (When House Sparrows first came to the States they were enjoyed by those who loved them.) But, by the time the invasive non-native species is out of control, it's too late to turn back; and, even those who once benefitted are harmed.

When the time comes that Chinese Tallow forests abound, if the spread is not slowed, we'll have forests full of trees this species that is insect repellant. If the forest is all fruit and no insects, what sort of a forest will that be?

Tallow leaves do not attract the insect fauna used by our insectivorous birds, especially spring migrants on the coast - for instance, those warblers that summer to our north. The migrant birds have just flown across the Gulf of Mexico and stop on the coast to replenishing fat reserves for several days before continuing their northward migration. These birds cannot survive without the availability of insects.

Lepidopteran larvae (caterpillars of moths and butterflies) are not found in Chinese Tallow - it's an insect resistant tree. The caterpillars are one of the most important food items for migrants during spring migration.

(Bluebirds eat them, too.)

Evidence is overwhelming that tallow are destroying wildlife habitat at a dramatic rate and it is being spread by our beloved birds.

Yes, in the fall, tallow fruits get fleshy, tasty, and useful to many birds, The caloric value (Kcal/g) of tallow fruit (waxy coating) is 2-4X greater than southern native fruits, including wax myrtle." According to Dr. Wylie Barrow, an expert on birds and the spread of tallow Chinese Tallow, the list of birds known to consume tallow fruits is now at 38 species (his list). To his knowledge, the only other species that comes close to attracting as many dispersers is Hackberry and based on exhaustive literature review and field work Hackberry stands at 27 known avian consumers. Tallow may attract more bird species than any tree in [North America]. It is this dispersal syndrome that is responsible, in large part, for its invasiveness.

The tallow is EXTREMELY invasive. It was brought to Texas through Tea's nursery in Houston (as part of a government project to find a relacement for whale oil) and quickly spread. Since 1970 tallow woodland has increased from 50 to 30,000 acres in Galveston County alone. A similar trend exists for all counties and parishes within the Chenier Plain.

Because the non-native tallow grows taller and faster than natives and dispersed so quickly over such large areas by birds, it smothers out native flora and fauna. Native wildlife (not just birds) do not have their food sources.

There's a balance in nature. Chinese Tallow trees throw the balance out of kilter.

Pauline Tom, Mountain City (no mountains) TX



From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 3:29 PM
Subject: Re: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

...All I can tell you is that I've been feeding raw, un-treated, un-melted, un-rendered suet, straight from the meat department in the supermarket, for nigh onto 55 years now, and I've never seen any harmful effects. The birds like it, especially the various Woodpeckers, but also the Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Purple and House Finches, Bluejays, etc. Goldfinches don't go for it, and the Juncos only feed on the ground. Coons like it, but they're rare since the rabies epidemic. Bears like it, but I don't put it out when the bears are out of their dens in the summer. When I put it out, they're mostly in hibernation. In the summer, my feeders are all stored away in the garage.            I have never used Crisco, or made any kind of 'Banquet' or cake. I just cut up the raw suet and stick the chunks in the wire cage feeders. I have never used any of those factory-made cakes that come in net bags, often in the shape of bells, or something. Bruce Burdett, SW NH

From: Keith & Sandy Kridler [mailto:txbluebirder"at"sbcglobal.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 9:49 PM
Subject: Crisco research Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas

I don't think Crisco would actually make the bluebirds sick but I think it has the potential of not being digested by the bluebirds and thus becoming a laxative. I am sure many on this list remember being forced to drink castor oil for stomach aches as it was going to slide right on through the bowels. Horses are still given doses of mineral oil to help with colic. Since we have several on the list still trapping Starlings they should make a good bird to test these three recipes with. The starlings already LIKE the peanut butter mixes. They eat a very similar diet of insects and fruits and berries just like the bluebirds. Starlings hold up pretty well in captivity....KK


From: Dottie Roseboom [mailto:rosedot"at"mtco.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 10:44 PM
Re: bluebirds eat naturally oily food

In our grocery stores with "Health Food" sections, there are usually several brands of peanut butter without hydrogenated oils. While we're on this "nutritional" kick for the Bluebird Banquet, if possible, the flour should be "100% whole wheat" and the cornmeal label should mention that it's "100% whole grain". Pillsbury & Hodgson Mill are brands that can found in larger grocery stores. And remember, enjoy the bluebirds. Dottie Roseboom Peoria IL (ce


From: Paula [mailto:PaulaZ"at"columbus.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 3:19 PM
Subject: Bird Feeding

I just checked out back and a pair of EABL were chasing HOSP away from their Banquet. There could be a number of reasons if your EABL aren't eating the food. I think Dottie lives in an area that is more abundant with natural food sources than I do - berries, etc. in the winter. I have a friend right here in town who says her EABL won't eat it either. We both live in subdivisions, but I am surrounded by houses for miles around and her property backs up to a wildlife refuge area which has a lot of natural plants with berries and fruit available probably all winter long. I tease her though because she still sets out mealworms occasionally in the winter and I tell her the EABL are holding out for the good stuff (mealworms). Another reason could possibly be the consistency of the food. I double up on the suet because once the mix cools, it should be mostly pea sized lumps. If it is too crumbly, they don't seem as fond of it. My EABL will not eat raisins. I believe they are just a bit too large for their discerning palate. I've heard you can cut them up, but I am lazy and prefer to use zante currants which you can find in raisin or baking section of the grocery store. SunMaid has them in orange box. We bought some of the little grapes that these currents come from this summer. Kids think they are great fun - love those tiny little grapes. OK, so I enjoyed them also. If you haven't had a chance to read The Dynamics of Birdfeeding yet, it is very interesting. You can access it directly via http://www.birdfeeding.org/pdf_files/DYN2001.pdf if your computer can read PDF files. They studied the effect of supplemental winter feeding on BCCH in Wisconsin. This was a scientific study of sorts and they determined that the supplemental feeding increased the survival rate of birds in extremely cold weather. The feeding was even more helpful in suburban areas where natural food sources were not abundant. I also was intrigued by the following statement, "Small birds maintain fat at a level that allows them to survive a night of 'expected' or average weather conditions." What intrigued me about this is it could explain why some birds in warmer climates succumb to temperatures (during an unexpected cold snap) that our more northern birds weather fine. They just didn't plan for it. Eating and staying alive in the winter is apparently hard work for a bird. If people, via habitat destruction, didn't remove the natural plants that provide food for wildlife and if people hadn't introduced large flocks of hungry EUST and HOSP to this country, I imagine the native birds would have a much better survival rate in the winter. I think supplemental feeding certainly doesn't hurt, and it can make an important difference during prolonged cold weather. If your birds aren't eating your offerings, maybe you live in an area where you haven't uprooted all their food producing plants or an area that doesn't harbor the flocks of EUST and HOSP we see here in central Ohio. Lucky you. Paula Z Powell (Central) Ohio


From: Tina Wertz [mailto:tinawertz"at"bellsouth.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 5:14 PM
Subject: RE: lucky "bluebirders"

Cristy, I think it all depends on how bad the winter will be this year and how depleted their food sources become.  Last winter was the first time I had bluebirds in my yard period.  They were eating sunflower chips I had been feeding the goldfinches.  Here in Georgia we had a below normal winter and I feel the berries and other sources of food were gone by December.  I started making a banquet for them and all 7 stayed the whole winter until early spring when one pair chose my yard as their territory.  I continued feeding the banquet throughout the summer and they used it to feed their broods.  In early July they were gone and I haven't seen them since.  Now they are predicting a below normal winter here again, and I have noticed the birds really going through the berries as well as the squirrels and chipmunks.  So hopefully again they will come to my feeders looking for food and I will supplement them with the banquet.  And trust me, if you make it more than just the bluebirds will eat it.  I had over 50 yellow rumped warblers, titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers eat the banquet as well.  Lots of luck.


From: eindians [mailto:eindians"at"zoominternet.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 21, 2004 9:07 PM
Subject: Re: Scientific Studies on Mealworm Feeding?

Sweetolive,                                                                                                                            Before the European paper wasp invaded our area[about 11 years ago] tent caterpillers could be found by the hundreds of thousands here. In our yard alone there used to be dozens of nests.The caterpillers would be so thick that without management whole trees would be completely defoliated.[mostly crabbapple and cherry trees in our yard] There has been zero tents in any of our trees for 10 years now,but when they were here the birds had all the chances they needed to overdose on them. I cetainly never observed them doing so. In fact i wish they would have eaten more. In my thinking whats the difference between birds having a shot at eating all the caterpillars,insects,etc, or eating mealworms. Tent worms being the perfect example,where they could literally sit in one tree and eat from now on. Like you said they know what they are doing.                                                                             

...Evan, 15 miles south of Youngstown,Ohio


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
To: 'Keith & Sandy Kridler'; 'BLUEBIRD-L' Subject:
RE: Crisco research Keith that sounds logical.

Our large animal vet just recommended vegetable OIL as a laxative for our goat (1 tsp. for a 100 lb. goat, so it's not very much to have an impact). But I'm not sure how similar the digestive systems of a ruminant and bird would be.... I wanted to contact sandiegozoo.org to learn the basis for their statement that vegetable shortening makes birds sick, but no contact was listed (typical of many large websites. And in general, I find very few people who respond to e-mails about their websites, or who respond to e-mails at all. I was so impressed with JL Peterson's speedy reply to Paula Z!) Does anybody know a bird vet who could provide us with some more info? Bet PS Apparently lard and vegetable shortening have 0 protein. Beef suet (per http://www.natureskeepers.com/suet_vs_veg_fat.html) has 0.4 grams/oz., not sure that's significant, so I modified my suet web page to reflect this new info. http://www.sialis.org/suet.htm


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2004 11:02 AM
Subject: Re: Crisco research

Bet, I did find a "contact" link on that San Diego Zoo website, and sent them a request for more information. (It was in teeny-weenie print at the bottom of the page). We'll see how quick they are about answering. I'm also contacting someone that I know has a close relationship with their avian vet -- maybe we can get some answers there. Cher


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Friday, October 22, 2004 11:22 AM
RE: Crisco research

Great! Guess I scanned that site too quickly. I have a call into to an avian vet in CT that a friend gave me the number for. We can compare notes. I certainly don't want to include vegetable shortening on any recipes if it does really cause digestive problems, but I'd like to confirm that before completely eliminating it as an option.


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 9:03 AM
Re: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

Dear Friends, I'll second Bruce on his post. Cheers and as always... Happy Bluebird Trails To You, John Schuster


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 8:19 AM
RE: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

But Bruce isn't feeding suet to bluebirds, and from what I read on the other posts, bluebirds won't eat plain suet. † Bet from CT


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 2004 3:33 PM
Subject: Re: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

You're right, Bet. I don't feed suet to Bluebirds. Occasionally they get some mealworms, but only when I want to take some pictures. Most of my 72 houses (36 sites) never see a mealworm.
Bruce Burdett


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 9:25 AM
RE: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

I still think we should listen to Keith about the Crisco having a laxative effect on the birds. Others have e-mailed me privately that thy concur. I would not even post a recipe with it in it because it is amazing how many people don't read "all" of the information given. I experience this continually in giving out information. For example, one lady was at a presentation I gave last year and all mine include the information not to put a nestbox on a tree. Well, guess what, she still had it on there and asked me why shouldn't she have it there. Duh. Evelyn


From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 9:03 AM
Subject: The Crisco Test: let nature show you how eatable Crisco really is!

Dear Friends,

Never use Crisco for anything, except a cheap lubricate. Crisco is a hydrogenated oil product with unlimited shelf life, is not fit to eat for man or beast and that includes Bluebirds too. To prove the point, let nature show you how eatable Crisco is by doing the Crisco test.

I learned about this test back in 1997, at a seminar hosted by a panel of doctors warning about the health hazards of hydrogenated oil products (i.e. Crisco and margarine) plus other health issues. I've done this test many times over the years and the end result is always the same.

Here is how you do the Crisco test.

Buy a small can of Crisco, open the can, place the exposed Crisco face up in a conner in your barn, shed, or garage. Now place tasty goodies like cheese or natural peanut butter (I suppose you can use raw suet and lard too without adding anything to either fat) in a tuna fish can next to the Crisco that are known to attract insects, mice, etc. I've even placed chocolate candy bars next to the can of Crisco to see what the critters will eat. I've noticed that the critters will eat the chocolate on the outside of the candy bars, but will never eat the inside components of same.

Over the years you will see the goodies in the tuna fish can disappear, but you will never see any evidence that something will touch let alone eat the Crisco. About the only thing that will touch the Crisco is dust.

I will sometimes use Crisco in my workshop as a cheap lubricate, but never as a food product (and that include margarine) as I prefer butter for eating, and baking.

For those that are convinced that Crisco is A-OK, just ask yourself the following questions.

When is the last time that your walked in the wood and saw a can of Crisco growing from a bush or a tree?

When is the last time that you saw a can of Crisco swimming in a stream, walking around on all fours or flying through the air?

Well, after you do the Crisco test it is my sincere hope that cans of Crisco will fly through the air, all the way to the garbage can! ....

John Schuster


From: Dottie, Hickory Hollow, Brown County, Indiana [mailto:yumyumkatts"at"voyager.net]
Sent: Saturday, October 23, 2004 11:07 AM
Re: Suet vs. vegetable shortening

I've never had BB's come to suet feeders. They come only to the feeder tray when I put raisins out and usually this is normally in February when food is getting scarce. They love holly berries. Dottie, Hickory Hollow Brown County, Indiana


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 2004 11:59 AM
Subject: My ramblings on evil crisco, human interference, etc.

I read every posting on the Bluebird_L - I figure I can learn something from everyone. But I try to restrain myself from drawing definitive conclusions and from dismissing options before considering varying experiences and available factual information and implications. We have seen that Eastern, Mountain, and Western bluebirds in different areas behave differently and show different preferences. Even the same birds may behave differently as they age; as seasons, climate, and conditions change; and from one year to the next.

We also know that birds and humans are different. I would venture to say that the average american diet is not made up of 68% insects. Holly berries can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in humans. Pokeweed can cause gastrointestinal irritation (colic, bloody diarrhea), and rarely: anemia, possibly death; birth defects and tumors may also be possible. Yet birds relish the berries of both these plants. (Of course, cats and dogs find ethylene glycol [antifreeze] tasty even though it's totally toxic.)

Many of us humans engage in activities that are not natural, in an attempt to restore some balance to the ecosystem. I, for one, have seldom seen a tree with a metal/plastic predator guard growing on it, or with a Superdeck coating. I am not aware that bluebirds have ready access to mealworms as a food source in the natural world. I'm guessing bluebirds probably don't eat suet off of dead animals. Yet these unnatural activities (putting up nestboxes that will last, using predator guards, offering mealworms and suet as supplemental food) may have a role to play in promoting bluebird health, survival, and successful reproduction. Could bluebirds survive and thrive without our "interference"? Maybe not, since they are subject to consequences of past choices humans have made on pesticide use, introduction of alien species like starlings and house sparrows, etc. Should we minimize the level of our interference? Probably, but sometimes it's tough for me to figure out where to draw the line.

I've been thinking about this topic, as I just finished "Between a Rock and a Hard Place," by Aron Ralston (the climber whose arm was trapped by a falling boulder [which by the way fell on him after HE moved it], and after 5 days he decided he had no option but to lop his arm off.) Anyway, before the accident, while chatting with fellow hikers, he paraphrased the radical environmentalist Edward Abbey (author of Desert Solitaire) as saying something like "Of course, we're all hypocrites. The only true act of an environmentalist would be to shoot himself in the head. Otherwise he's still contaminating the place by his mere presence."

I for one am not advocating that people shoot themselves in the head. And on the flip side, I certainly don't subscribe to the line of thought that humans should have free reign without considering impacts on the ecosystem. (I cringed hearing Paul Harvey commenting along the lines of "why not drill for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge? Nobody goes there on vacation, and we're not using it for anything. God put that oil there for us to take it.)

I'm looking for balance. And I do feel a personal obligation to try to do something to leave this world, not worse, or even the same, but better than it was when I got here. I think most anything anybody does to effectively help one more bluebird come into the world and maybe live a little longer is a good thing. We just need to keep trying to sort out what will do no HARM...

No disrespect meant to anyone who shares their opinion on the BBL - I relish your thoughts and experiences as much as those cedar waxwings relished the pokeweed berries in my backyard. I'm just blathering a bit...feel free to ignore me :-) Bet on the Soapbox


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 2004 12:10 PM
RE: My ramblings on evil crisco, human interference, etc.

Well, Bet, it was stated that vegetable oil was given as a laxative to animals and that said enough for me. When I first joined the BB-L, it was the advice given to all of us not to use it. I think we should err on the side of caution. In fact, this is the first time on BB-L that I have seen it more or less recommended, ever in my 4 years on this list. When we start letting things get by that we are NOT sure of, then it becomes the norm. Then, later on, we kick ourselves in the you know what for doing something else stupid to the wildlife. There are also medicines that people can take that animals cannot take. I think we should be VERY careful and thoughtful of what we do if we are involved in raising birds in our yards and trails. Evelyn


From: Rappaho"at"aol.com [mailto:Rappaho"at"aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 24, 2004 5:07 PM
Subject: Re: My ramblings on evil crisco... vegetable oil

Evelyn,

ANY OIL or SOLID FAT can be used as a laxative. It is just that it is easier to swallow something liquid than a chunk. And who wants to eat several tablespoons of crisco or other solid fat. Kind of hard to swallow.

Birds eat corn, why not corn oil? Think about it. It is the quantity of oil/fat now what kind that is  used for the laxative. Yes hydroginated fats are bad.

kathy.

From: John Schuster [mailto:wildwingco"at"earthlink.net]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 11:05 AM
Re: My ramblings on evil crisco, human interference, etc.

Dear Evelyn, Bet and Friends, Thank you Evelyn you brought it back to a proper perspective. Another thing about a laxatives (regardless of the source) you loose water, so dehydration needs to be considered, and that can not be good for birds (particularly when temperatures are never freezing.) Cheers and as always... Happy Bluebird Trails To You, John Schuster ...


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 3:19 PM
Subject: Reply from San Diego zoo re shortening

Ok, now just to confuse things, here's the response I got from the San Diego Zoo regarding their statement that shortening would "make birds sick".

****

From: Cher I have a question regarding a statement made on one of your webpages. At http://www.sandiegozoo.org/kids/craft_baker_for_birds.html the statement is made in one of the recipes for creating baked goods for birds, "1 cup bacon grease (drippings), melted but not too hot; you > can use melted lard instead, but DO NOT use vegetable shortening, because it makes birds sick."

I am with a group of Bluebirders, and we have been researching the question of how different types of fat used in "suet" cakes and recipes affects Bluebirds. Some recipes actually call for the use of vegetable shortening. We would very much like to know more about the research behind this statement, and in what way shortening makes birds sick -- i.e., is it just non-nutritive, or does it actually have an adverse affect on them other than that?

We'd be very grateful for any assistance you can offer us in this regard. Cher

**From: "PublicRelations"
To: Cher Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 2:59 PM
Subject: Re: Message from San Diego Zoo Web site user to AnimalInquiries

Thank you for your e-mail. We checked with our nutritionist and he indicates that there is no health risk associated specifically with vegetable oil (as opposed to other oils). Thanks for bringing this to our attention.


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 6:23 PM
Subject: RE: My ramblings on evil crisco, human interference, etc.

The reference to use as a laxative was from me - but it was for a goat, which is a ruminant, and it was vegetable oil, not shortening.  Mammals and birds have different digestive systems and metabolisms, which is why I'm interested in hearing from an avian vet to learn more.  In general, going natural is probably a good choice whenever feasible. Bet


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 6:30 PM
RE: Reply from San Diego zoo re shortening

Well, I looked in the Archives of "Best Of" and none of the recipes have Crisco. Evelyn


From: Tina Wertz [mailto:tinawertz"at"bellsouth.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 4:59 PM
RE: Pileated Feed and computer software questions

[Note from webmaster: in response to a question on how to attract Pileated Woodpeckers to feeders] Wendell, Suet, suet and more suet. Wildbirds Unlimited sells a log with suet plugs inserted in 1 1/2 in holes that have been drilled into the log. They also sell a double tail suet holder which is very appealing to these huge birds. They are the most timid of all woodpeckers so I can not stress enough, the more suet you can put out the more likely you will be able to attract them. I have been fortunate to have a breeding pair that frequents my feeders about once every six weeks. This summer they brought their baby up as well. They seem to like the Natural Nut suet. But they also like the woodpecker blend as well. Pileated Woodpeckers have anywhere from a 250 to a 500 acre territory range so they are not an everyday occurance. During the dead of winter they do seem to frequent more often. Good Luck.


From: Tina Wertz [mailto:tinawertz"at"bellsouth.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 3:52 PM
RE: Pileated Feed

Here is a webcam link to show that the Pileated will in fact come to a suet feeder. http://www.wildbirdsunlimited.com/pics/pileatedwbu.htm


From: Elizabeth Zimmerman [mailto:ezdz"at"charter.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 5:50 PM
Subject: Information from avian vet on vegetable shortening

I spoke with Dr. Sean Pampreen, an avian vet at the Marlborough Bird and Animal Hospital in Marlborough CT. I asked him whether vegetable shortening OR vegetable oil could negatively affect a bird's digestive system if used in a suet mix. He said he had never heard that vegetable oil or shortening being detrimental unless perhaps it were used in large quantities. 1 tsp. of vegetable COMBINED WITH mineral oil can be used for a bird the size of a bluejay to deal with impaction. He noted that suet is likely to only be a supplemental food source for wild birds. He also noted that sunflower seeds, millet and peanuts are between 45-56% oil. He felt there would probably be no difference (from a bird health standpoint) between using suet, lard or vegetable shortening.

(Note: Crisco is made of partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, and mono and diglycerides. See previous posts about concerns about hydrogenated oils. Vegetable oil and vegetable shortening are not the same - at least from a baking standpoint. Shortening makes baked goods fluffier and flakier, while oils provide a denser and heavier texture. They do make a 0-trans fat Crisco that comes in a green can.) Bottom line - he did not think it would be a problem. Just some info that you can use to make your own choices. Bet from CT

PS If you haven't read it yet, I recommend http://www.sialis.org/documents/DYN2001.pdf - The Dynamics of Bird Feeding - pluses and minuses of feeding birds which was referenced in an earlier BBL post. Great info based on research.

"A mind is like a parachute - it needs to be open to work"


From: PTom [mailto:ptom"at"austin.rr.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 6:42 PM
Re: Information from avian vet on vegetable shortening

Information from avian vet on vegetable shorteningPerhaps the notion that Crisco is harmful came from recipes that say, "Do not substitute Crisco for lard." My tried and true recipe for "Bird Butter" (with peanut butter, lard, cornmeal, oatmeal, sugar & flour) says "Do Not Substitute Crisco". It's not because it's harmful to the birds. It's because the mixture does not "set" and get firm enough with Crisco.


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 7:11 PM
RE: Information from avian vet on vegetable shortening

I think having a mind with common sense is just as important as it being open like a parachute. I held that until it was proven it was o.k, it was best not to use it. I still say that is the sensible thing to do. Evelyn


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 7:33 PM
RE: Information from avian vet on vegetable shortening

I would think there would have to be some more scientific information stating to us why we should not use Crisco that just coming to a conclusion that it was bad from a statement like "Do not substitute Crisco for Lard). That is why I think it is best to get our answers from the professionals, not just hear say. Evelyn


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 9:28 PM
RE: Information from avian vet on vegetable shortening

As many times as my birds come to the feeder to eat in the winter, if I only fed something based in oil or Crisco, they could eat quite a bit of it. Keith's post stated that oil has a laxative effect on birds. That is why I offer mine more raisins or at least as much of them as I do the peanut butter mix. Mine do eat more of the raisins. The Dr. said in his statement if they are not given large amounts of it. So, I think a steady diet of ONLY the Crisco and oil mixes are not the best for them. I stated before that a Bluebirds diet in the winter is not peanut butter, oils and Crisco growing on bushes. It is berries and fruits that is their natural diet in winter. I think we should concentrate more on planting bushes that raise berries and offer them more fruits and berries and supplement with the mixes. I have lots of Holly Berries that produce every year too. We need to make that clear to the newbies and any oldies that are too lazy to do anything but stir up a mix. Evelyn


From: Haleya Priest [mailto:mablue"at"gis.net]
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 9:47 PM
Subject: Re: Information from avian vet on vegetable shortening

Haleya Priest Amherst MA
     Bet  - please don't be offended, but I wonder if Dr. Pampreen eats Crisco himself. If he did, then I personally wouldn't rely on him as a source of useful info on the subject. Sorry  - I really am not intending on stirring the pot. I appreciate you looking into this- the howlin' wolves made me say it. :-) H


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 9:45 AM
Re: Painted predator baffles?

Not that I think it's a good idea to feed Crisco to birds, mind you. But if I'm going to tell people it isn't a good idea, I'd like to be able to give them a reason, not just my opinion. I've never used Crisco myself -- just lard. I can't abide the smell of beef suet. Planting berry bushes is a great idea -- they will take time to start producing in any quantity, though. In the meantime, mealworms and "suet" mix will have to suffice. ..... Cher


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 9:52 AM
RE: Painted predator baffles?

Well, if I understand it right, one of the main issues that some have is the hydrogenated issue. Remember one person told us where to get peanut butter that did not have hydrogenated oils added? ... Evelyn


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 12:38 PM
Subject: The continuing shortening vs lard vs suet question - another chapter

In my search for answers on avian nutrition, I found the e-mail address for Dr. Kirk Klasing, Professor of Avian Nutrition at the Dept. of Animal Science at UC Davis. I've included the text of my inquiry to him below, along with his very prompt reply. He presents some very interesting information. From: Cher Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 7:35 AM To: kcklasing"at"ucdavis.edu Subject: Vegetable shortening vs. suet/lard for wild birds Dear Dr. Klasing, I wonder if you would be kind enough to help a group of Bluebird conservationists answer a question regarding the effect of different types of fat used in "suet" cakes and recipes used as supplemental food sources for the Bluebirds that frequent the nestboxes in our Bluebird trails and backyard setups. Some recipes actually call for the use of vegetable shortening in these mixes, while others call for lard or suet and warn not to substitute with vegetable shortening. We have been unable to find any evidence behind either position. Some have suggested that hydrogenated fats such as those found in vegetable shortening would be bad for birds. It has even been suggested that making mixes with peanut butter containing partially hydrogenated oils would be unacceptable. Others maintain that vegetable oils would be unhealthy because of causing a laxitive effect on birds. Others see no reason not to use vegetable shortening, as no concrete evidence has been presented to indicate otherwise. We would be most grateful for any information you might be willing to provide on this subject. Cher

AND HIS REPLY:

Cher: "Suet" by definition is raw fat from cattle or sheep. I would avoid it in the raw form. When suet is melted and clarified, it is called tallow. Tallow is better because it is less likely to go rancid over time. However, pure tallow is not easily digested by birds because it is high in saturated fats. Very high amounts of fatty acids are difficult to emulsify by the bile, lowering its digestibility. Adding a source of unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oil or lard, improves digestibility (80 % tallow, 20% vegetable oil or lard is a good combination - you can adjust the proportions to give the melting point desired). Peanut butter also works to increase digestibility of tallow because it is high in unsaturated fats. I do not know of evidence for a laxative effect of vegetable oil. Like tallow, vegetable shortening is solid at room temperatures. However, the hydrogenation used to make shortening results in lots of trans fatty acids. Though we don't know for sure, it is likely that the trans fatty acids are less healthy than "natural" cis fatty acids (unhydrogenated oils). In chickens, high levels of trans fatty acids deplete antioxidants in the tissues. It would be best to avoid high levels of vegetable shortening. Adding additional vitamin E and other vitamins could be useful for any "suet" cake because the primary problem with these cakes is that they go rancid over time. People who feed suet usually also feed seeds. Domestic seeds are low in most vitamins, including vitamin E. Adding a multivitamin to the suet mix could be useful. Shoot for about 25 IU of vitamin E per pound of cake. Don't use a vitamin mix that contains trace minerals, because they promote oxidation. I hope this helps.

Kirk C. Klasing, Professor of Avian Nutrition Department of Animal Science, ...University of California Davis ...


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 1:23 PM
RE: The continuing shortening vs lard vs suet question - another chapter

Cher, from your post: "Like tallow, vegetable shortening is solid at room temperatures. However, the hydrogenation used to make shortening results in lots of trans fatty acids. Though we don't know for sure, it is likely that the trans fatty acids are less healthy than "natural" cis fatty acids (unhydrogenated oils). In chickens, high levels of trans fatty acids deplete antioxidants in the tissues. It would be best to avoid high levels of vegetable shortening." This paragraph is the reason why a lot of us have avoided using Crisco. I don't know why discussions were not included in "The Best Of" from a few years ago about this, but I do remember the discussions and also talking about this in chickens. I learned on this List it was best not to use it in recipes. I looked and did not find any discussion about this from years past. I do remember peanut butter was recommended as more healthful and that is why I have used it. I can also remember a big round on here about not using "Canola Oil". That is another can of worms. This is why I think anyone that promotes recipes using Crisco should read this carefully and think about it. The average birder does not have a clue. The birds can really go through a huge amount of these mixtures in the winter, I know from the peanut butter balls I make. It is good to have BOTH sides of the issue presented. Evelyn I was curious as to why the avian vet Bet contacted used vegetable oil mixed with mineral oil to give to the Blue Jay. Cher, your contact was pretty in-depth about it. Like they say, you can get second opinion. Evelyn


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 2:16 PM
Re: The continuing shortening vs lard vs suet question - another chapter

Evelyn, Cher, et al, I just put out my two suet-feeders (hanging cages) each with a big chunk of raw, pure, unmelted, unrendered suet. The woodpeckers (Downy and Hairy) love it, and most of the other birds drop in as well. I don't see why people go to all the trouble of melting it down and doctoring it up in so many ways. As Thoreau said: "Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!"


From: Evelyn Cooper [mailto:emcooper"at"bayou.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 2:30 PM
RE: The continuing shortening vs lard vs suet question - another chapter

Bruce, I hope you read the drs. advice about giving the birds RAW suet. He advises against using it in the raw form. They may love it, but I love rich ice cream but don't eat it. I get the low fat, sweetened with Splenda kind. I really do think we should be MORE careful of what we do on a daily basis. Please lets treat the birds like they deserve!!! Evelyn


From: Cher [mailto:bluebirdnut"at"a-znet.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 2:50 PM
Subject: Re: The continuing shortening vs lard vs suet question - another chapter

Although we may never know the complete answer "beyond a reasonable doubt", we can certainly go with "the preponderance of the evidence". And the preponderance at this point seems to be pointing away from shortening, and toward a mixture of rendered suet, lard, and peanut butter. (Does this mean I have to start rendering suet again? The very smell makes me retch!)

Well, this info will definitely be archived at BluebirdNut.com and at the BBNutCafe. Although many people don't want to have to dig to find answers, they just want to ask and have a question answered. Hey, at least they're ASKING, y'know?


From: Sweetolive [mailto:sweetolive1"at"att.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 3:47 PM
Subject: Suet, Lard, etc

Where I live, I'm more concerned with pesticides, herbacides, and farming chemicals hurting the birds than a little suet!

Olive
Louisiana


From: Bruce Burdett [mailto:blueburd"at"tds.net]
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 4:26 PM
Re: Suet, Lard, etc

Evelyn, Just as a matter of nomenclature, in my book there's only one kind of suet, and that's raw suet, What other kind of suet is there? After it's melted it's not suet any more, it's just grease, or fat, or maybe tallow. Bruce Burdett


Continued in Suet, Part 2


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