This homemade peanut butter suet recipe feeds wild birds in the winter when food is scarce. It does not contain beef lard like traditional and store-bought suet. It’s simple to make and well-loved by the birds.
Also see How to Choose the Right Birdseed for tips on choosing the best food options for wild birds in your garden.
How to Make Suet With Peanut Butter
2022 Wild Bird Safety Note
Due to outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, it is strongly recommended to remove bird feeders and cease any hand-feeding at this time. This may help reduce transmission rates amongst our wild bird populations.
Ongoing, feeders should be cleaned frequently with a bleach solution. Also remove any debris from ground around feeders.
I was noticing a lot of nuthatches and woodpeckers living in the pine trees at the back of the yard but I could never seem to lure them to the bird feeders until I cracked open the peanut butter and made a batch of peanut butter suet.
It’s a simple combination of all-natural peanut butter and good quality birdseed, plus nuts and fruit (optional).
I prefer using this to commercial suet due to occasional food quality issues.
You can read more about choosing a good quality birdseed here.
Also consider the natural diet of birds and supply what fits. I avoid things like Crisco and gelatin for this reason.
If you haven’t tried peanut butter suet at a feeder, you’re in for a surprise. As soon as I put mine out, the birds show up.
The peanut butter is so alluring that birds that normally avoid each other end up feeding together in ignorant bliss. Good food can do that to you.
Be sure to use pure peanut butter (100% peanuts) with no other ingredients. Some additives and sweeteners are either harmful to wildlife or have not been tested.
You do have to be careful with it though: don’t add globs of it to a feeder otherwise the sticky oil is a problem for the birds. It has to be thinly distributed within birdseed (see recipe below) to be safe and easy for birds to consume.
If you choose to use lard, temperatures must be below 40F (4C) to avoid spoiling.
This is a winter food and not necessary at other times of year when natural food sources like insects are available (above 50F or 10C).
Bird Health & Safety
While nice for us bird watchers, providing food for wild birds is not necessary for their survival. Keep your feeders clean and disinfected and remove them if there is news or signs of any communicable bird diseases.
Choosing a Suet Feeder
If you want to use a store-bought suet feeder, there are some good options available.
I like the type with a board hanging down. This provides extra support for the birds, holding their tails in place while they perch and eat. You can see the best one here on Amazon.
A peanut butter suet feeder will attract nuthatches, woodpeckers, chickadees, bluejays, and more.
Should Birds Eat Peanut Butter?
According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology “In winter, especially in cold climates, peanut butter is a nutritious food to offer birds. Peanut butter sold in grocery stores is certified safe for human consumption, and is safe to offer birds when cold or cool temperatures keep it fairly hard. In warmer weather it must not be kept outside long enough to become rancid or soft.
There is some concern that soft peanut butter can stick to birds’ mouths. To make it grittier, cornmeal* can be added, but because both corn and peanuts provide excellent media for bacterial and fungal growth, make sure peanut butter feeders are cleaned out frequently. Peanut oils can separate in both pure peanut butter and in mixtures. If these oils adhere to a nesting bird’s feathers, they can be transferred to eggs, plugging the pores, so never provide peanut butter mixtures that become soft or oily.”
*Because cornmeal is a low-quality filler, I do not use it.
Related: Click here to watch live bird cams
Empress v Squirrels
I suspend my suet cage from a tree branch. With the exception of Super Squirrel (who can fly down a rope like a firefighter on pole), it’s too high off the ground and too far down from the tree branch for mere mortal squirrels to reach it:
This is what first happened when I hung it near a tree trunk:
Which then provoked this:
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
Peanut Butter Suet for Birds
Supplies & Materials
- 1½ cups Birdseed see notes for recommendations
- ½ cup Peanut butter all-natural (100% peanuts) – no additives
- ¼ cup Peanuts raw, shelled (optional)
- 1/4 cup Dried fruit no additives (optional)
- In large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine ingredients.Peanut butter should hold everything together without excess globs. It should not be oily.If ingredients aren't sticking, gradually add small amounts of additional peanut butter.
- Spoon into suet feeder and hang up outside.
- Suitable for temperatures below 50°F (10°C). Clean suet cage before refilling.