When it comes to feeding my backyard birds, I love to do it not only because I love to see them and hear their songs, but I think that they like it too. I have plenty of trees, and a small pond nearby, with the food it gives them everything that small birds need to thrive.
The site of a bright yellow goldfinch in the summer, or a beautiful red cardinal against the new fallen snow just brightens my day. The song of the sparrow and the coo of the morning dove are music to my ears and even the pecking of the red headed woodpeckers make me feel alive.
I have thistle feeders for the finches, feeders with seed, and suet for the woodpeckers. On days when my health does not allow me to get out and reach the bird feeders in my backyard to refill them, I improvise and spread birdseed on the railing of my deck. No matter what, I will continue feeding all of the backyard birds, or so I thought.
Recently the price of suet that I put out for the woodpeckers almost doubled and I thought twice about feeding the woodpeckers any longer, but I could not stop feeding the backyard birds, not just one group of them, that wouldn’t be right, so I decided to try my hand at making my own suet. I kept a few of the plastic containers that the suet comes in to use as molds, and talked to our local bird store owner about what was actually in suet. It turns out that all I needed was lard, peanut butter, and birdseed. The store owner said that you don’t have to add the peanut butter but the woodpeckers like it, I thought that since I am going to be saving so much money by making my own suet why not, they like it and I like them, so it was settled, peanut butter was going to be added to my suet.
All I needed to do was melt the lard and the peanut butter in a large pot, and add just enough bird seed so there would still be some liquid. I put plastic wrap in the bottom of the molds that I kept, and then spooned in the homemade suet and put it in the freezer just long enough to be able to pop it out, so I was able to use the molds again for the rest of the pot. It was easy.
What the bird storeowner failed to tell me, was that I would be attracting every squirrel in the entire neighborhood to my yard with the smell of the peanut butter. Those little buggers were knocking down the suet cages and eating all of the suet. When the suet was done they emptied the bird feeders too. Feeding the backyard birds just got harder because one squirrel can knock down and get to the suet in what seems like moments, and it can empty the seed feeders even faster. The birds on the other hand could take a few days to empty one suet cage and one bird feeder.
I needed a way to stop the squirrels and get them to return to their previous homes. After doing some research, I found out that squirrels do not like the taste of crushed red pepper, but birds do not seem to mind it at all. Problems solved, I went to my local dollar store and purchased a large bottle of the spice. I mix it right in with the birdseed, so now even when I make my suet the spice is already in there. Now I am happy to say that feeding the backyard birds is a pleasure again, and the squirrels have moved back to their old homes.