The 6 Best Suet Cakes for Birds: Our Tips and Top Picks

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Suet is a cold-weather treat that helps birds get through the harshest times of the year. Packed with fat and protein, suet cakes can include lots of other nutritious foods like nuts, seeds, and insects.

Feeding suet is easy and straightforward. It can be as simple as dropping a cake into a hanging cage feeder and letting your feathered friends go wild.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about suet.

Like the idea that you can feed it year-round–that’s a big no-no. Or the idea that since suet is in a solid cake, you don’t need to clean the feeders afterward.

There are even some suet products being sold that may not be safe for birds.

Don’t worry! In this article, we’re going to fill you in on everything you need to know to become a suet expert and we’ll show you the 6 best suet cakes for birds!

You’ll be able to choose suet with confidence and offer it to the birds in a way that’s safe for them and fun for you to watch.

Let’s start with the basics.

Product Name
More Flavor Options
Wildlife Sciences Suet Plus Variety 6 Pack
Best for Smaller Birds
C&S Products Berry Suet Nuggets
Best Budget
Kaytee Wild Bird Suet & Seed Mini Suet Cake
Image
Wildlife Sciences Suet Plus Variety 6 Pack
C & S Products Berry Flavored Nuggets, 6-Piece
Kaytee Wild Bird Suet & Seed High Energy Mini Suet Cake, 11.75 Ounces
Customer Rating
Flavor
Assorted
Berry
Other
Target Species
Cardinal, Junco, Woodpecker, Blue_jay, Chickadee, Nuthatch
Bird
Bird
Breed Recommendation
All Breed Sizes
All Breed Sizes
Small Breeds
Item Form
Other
Seeds
Other
More Flavor Options
Product Name
Wildlife Sciences Suet Plus Variety 6 Pack
Image
Wildlife Sciences Suet Plus Variety 6 Pack
Customer Rating
Flavor
Assorted
Target Species
Cardinal, Junco, Woodpecker, Blue_jay, Chickadee, Nuthatch
Breed Recommendation
All Breed Sizes
Item Form
Other
Best for Smaller Birds
Product Name
C&S Products Berry Suet Nuggets
Image
C & S Products Berry Flavored Nuggets, 6-Piece
Customer Rating
Flavor
Berry
Target Species
Bird
Breed Recommendation
All Breed Sizes
Item Form
Seeds
Best Budget
Product Name
Kaytee Wild Bird Suet & Seed Mini Suet Cake
Image
Kaytee Wild Bird Suet & Seed High Energy Mini Suet Cake, 11.75 Ounces
Customer Rating
Flavor
Other
Target Species
Bird
Breed Recommendation
Small Breeds
Item Form
Other

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Is Suet?

Suet is the raw, hard fat of beef, lamb, or mutton found around the loins or kidneys. In the sense of feeding birds, this fat is taken and used to make a solid cake, usually mixed with seeds and grains, for the birds to eat.

Sometimes similar cakes, made from ingredients like peanut butter or gelatin, are sold labeled as suet but don’t actually include the real, animal fat suet.

Considerations When Buying Suet Cakes

Ok, so you’re going to pick out some suet. What do you need to think about?

Ingredients

The number one concern is ingredients. Anything you’re feeding to birds is best with all-natural ingredients, avoiding any additives that you can. The best suet cakes will have real suet, nuts and nut butter, seeds, grains, fruit, and insects.

We’ll go over the many shapes and flavors of suet later in this article, but you should know that different species of birds will prefer different kinds.

You may have to try several before your neighborhood birds let you know which suet they prefer.

Maintenance

From your perspective as the person maintaining the feeders, what works best for you? Suet is easy to handle, but you’ll want to choose a style of feeder that you can readily clean and refill. Scrubbing out a log feeder, for example, is a little more involved than cleaning a standard cage feeder.

What Birds Do You Want to Attract?

You’ll also want to choose a type of suet that will appeal to the birds you want to see. Woodpeckers are happy to hang upside down to access suet, which can help discourage unwanted animal visitors. But cardinals would rather stand on a sturdy platform to feed.

Now that you know some of the basics to keep in mind, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about suet. Once you’ve become an expert, we’ll go over the best-reviewed brands of suet out there so you can fill up those feeders!

What Suet Attracts the Most Birds?

While birds will happily enjoy plain beef fat suet, many varieties add in all kinds of treats to tempt birds. Suet with nuts, insects, birdseed, or fruit mixed in is aimed at attracting different species.

Woodpeckers, chickadees, jays, and nuthatches will be especially drawn to suet with nuts in it.

Suet that includes fruit can attract species like orioles, bluebirds, cardinals, waxwings, and grosbeaks.

Dried mealworms in the suet might bring attention from robins, titmice, and starlings.

You might want to experiment with different mixes and flavors to see what the birds in your neighborhood prefer. It could take them a few tries before they get used to a new shape or flavor of suet, so allow them to settle in.

What Is Better- Suet or Birdseed?

Suet has some advantages over birdseed, which make it a great choice for the colder months. Birdseed that has been mixed into suet stays where you put it, resulting in less waste. It can’t be dumped out or spilled the way seeds can.

Suet is an efficient way of delivering food, so you’re more likely to simply replace a finished cake rather than needing to clean up any mess from shells or spilled food.

However, suet cannot be a year-round substitute for bird seed and other bird food. This is because it tends to melt and spoil in warm weather.

Spoiled suet can make birds sick. Melted suet can clog their feathers and interfere with flight and nesting, and even harm their chicks. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends taking down suet feeders in the warmer months.

Does Different Suet Attract Different Birds?

Different flavors and shapes of suet will attract different kinds of birds. The type of suet birds will prefer will depend on what kind of foods they commonly eat.

For example, woodpeckers are big suet fans who also have a taste for both nuts and fruit. They’ll appreciate nut or fruit suet blends, and they have the beaks to handle any shape of suet.

A smaller bird, like a chickadee, who is also a fan of nuts, might appreciate some of the smaller shapes of suet, such as nuggets or pellets.

Let’s take a look at the most commonly available shapes and flavors of suet.

Shapes

  • Suet is most commonly sold as a cake, which is a rounded-off square shape about an inch and a half thick that will fit into most standard cage-style suet feeders.
  • Ball or sphere-shaped suet fits into wreaths, large cages, or nets.
  • Plugs are designed to fit into log-shaped feeders that accommodate clinging birds like woodpeckers and nuthatches.
  • Nuggets or pellets are bite-sized pieces of suet that can be offered in a variety of feeders and are suitable for smaller birds.
  • Shreds are meant to have the same texture as worms or insects and can be served on a tray or platform feeder.

Flavors

  • Nut: Nut mixes are very popular and attract a wide variety of birds. Types of nuts commonly mixed in suet include peanuts, pecans, almonds, and walnuts.
  • Fruit: Suet can be flavored with fruit, or can include fruit pieces. Many birds love berries, so blueberries and cherries are popular, as are orange, apple, and raisin varieties.
  • Insect: Lots of birds rely on insects as an important part of their diet, so suet with insects can be especially beneficial for them in the cold months. Types of insects you might find in suet include mealworms, crickets, or flies.
  • Seeds and Grains: Most types of suet will include seeds and grains alongside the other ingredients, such as black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, millet, cracked corn, and oats.

When Should You Put Out Suet for Birds?

When the weather turns colder in the fall, it’s time to get out your suet feeders! Suet goes bad at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so wait until there is no more possibility of days at 70 degrees or warmer.

Don’t put out suet in warm weather. It can damage the waterproofing on birds’ feathers and it will spoil quickly.

Suet is a great food for winter, where the cold weather will keep it fresh, and when birds are most in need of the calorie boost it gives them.

Is Suet Good for Woodpeckers?

Woodpeckers are especially fond of suet, and putting out a cake will definitely draw them!

They are adept at the clinging and upside-down perching style that many suet feeders are designed for. The best type of suet for attracting woodpeckers is a nut blend, but they also love fruit and mealworms.

Will Finches Eat Suet? What About Robins? Are There Any Birds That Won’t Eat Suet?

Finches and robins will both eat suet. Many species of birds love suet! Just a few include:

  • Woodpeckers
  • Nuthatches
  • Chickadees
  • Titmice
  • Wrens
  • Jays
  • Magpies
  • Starlings
  • Cardinals
  • Orioles
  • Grosbeaks
  • Thrashers
  • Catbirds
  • Mockingbirds

Some types of birds, like hummingbirds, won’t typically eat suet. But if other sources of food are scarce, birds will try more unusual foods, even if it’s just a nibble. That’s why it’s hard to say any specific bird would never eat suet.

Suet Cakes and Birds’ Health

Suet is a superfood for wild birds, providing them with vital protein and fat in the harsh cold months of the year. It’s a very efficient, calorie-dense food. Add-ins like insects, nuts, seeds, and fruit provide nutrition that would be harder to come by in the winter.

Changing Suet Cakes

The Audubon Society recommends cleaning suet feeders at least every other week, and more often if the weather warms up.

Don’t put out more suet than the birds who visit your yard will consume in this timespan so that none of it spoils or goes to waste. As always, clean your feeders thoroughly in between refills.

Do Suet Cakes Go Rancid?

Yes, suet of all kinds can easily go rancid if it’s too warm. The fat, peanut butter, and other foods mixed into the suet cakes are all ingredients that spoil quickly.

When suet goes rancid, it has a strong odor that can attract mammals like squirrels, raccoons, skunks, rats, and even bears. Pets like dogs and cats may also be tempted by it, and having a nibble could make them sick.

The best way to offer suet safely is to serve it in the cool fall and winter months when the temperature outside will help keep it fresh.

Do Suet Cakes Melt?

Regular suet will begin to melt when it is consistently hotter than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A “no-melt” kind will stay solid until it’s above about 90 degrees.

Both types will melt if they are too hot though, and that’s not good for birds. In addition to spoiling, the suet can clog their feathers.

High-quality no-melt suet has been rendered–meaning cooked down–multiple times to give it a higher melting point. It is sold as “no-melt” or “suet dough”.

Even though these suet cakes might not melt until they are hotter, they’re still not safe for year-round feeding, because suet tends to spoil quickly on warm days. Save suet for fall and winter bird feeding.

Should Suet Cakes for Birds be Refrigerated?

Suet cakes don’t have to be refrigerated before use. Regular suet doesn’t melt until it’s above 70 degrees. No-melt varieties stay solid up to 90 degrees. If your home is especially warm, you can keep suet in the refrigerator for freshness.

Is Hot Pepper Suet Safe for Birds?

Some types of suet are sold as “hot pepper suet” and include capsaicin, the extract that makes peppers spicy. The idea is that the burning sensation will deter animals like squirrels without bothering birds, who can’t taste it.

While it’s true that birds can’t taste the capsaicin and don’t mind it in their birdseed, the jury’s still out on whether it might hurt their eyes. Also, capsaicin is bad news for bees and other pollinating insects.

Plus, using something that burns and can injure the eyes is a cruel way to deter animals when you can simply use feeders that are hard for them to access.

For all of these reasons, the Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology both recommend you do not use bird foods that have capsaicin added to them.

Can You Make Your Own Suet?

You can easily obtain suet from your local butcher or garden center and use it to create your own cakes for the birds. Lots of fun shapes are possible, especially as holiday decorations or gifts.

The Audubon Society offers this recipe for cute outdoor suet and birdseed decorations, and another recipe for a vegetarian “suet” that substitutes nut butter for animal fat.

What Kind of Suet Do Birds Like?

We’ve taken a look at some of the most popular and highly-rated suet available to help you find the best choices for your feeders.

Among the factors we considered were safe ingredients, nutrition, positive reviews, value, and whether the product was the best in its category or had something to offer that the others didn’t.

We’ll run down the pros and cons of each kind so that you can make an easy decision on what kind of suet to get for your bird feeders.

Wildlife Sciences Suet Plus

Sale
Wildlife Sciences Suet Plus Variety 6 Pack
  • Contains 6 Assorted 11 oz. Suet Cakes. Approx. Size: 4.5” x 4.5” x 1”
  • Superior Melt-Resistant Formula.
  • Easy-Open No Mess Packaging. 100% recyclable.

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • With six different choices, this pack has more flavor options than most variety packs out there.
  • Attract a variety of birds by offering different flavors at your feeders.
  • This gives you a less expensive way to see what birds in your area prefer.

Cons:

  • These suet cakes use flavorings rather than real fruit, which isn’t as nutritious for the birds, and which they may not find as appealing.

Pine Tree Farms Log Jammer Peanut Suet

Sale
12 Pack Pine Tree Farms Log Jammer Peanut Suet 3 Plugs Per Pack (36 Plugs Total)
  • Log jammers woodpecker peanut suet plug
  • Contains chopped peanuts, peanut butter, cracked corn, sunflower hearts
  • Woodpeckers love it

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • This 12-pack offers great value: lots of suet for one low price.
  • These suet plugs are shaped for log feeders, so all you have to do is slide them in.
  • Peanut suet is a favorite of woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays, chickadees, and many other birds.

Cons:

  • Some reviews mention mushing or crumbling, so temperature and humidity play a role in how cooperative these plugs will be for you.
  • Cleaning out log feeders can be a bit of a hassle.

C&S Products Berry Suet Nuggets

Sale
C & S Products Berry Flavored Nuggets, 6-Piece
  • Rendered beef suet, peanuts, corn, oats, and cherry and berry flavorings
  • High energy nuggets
  • Attracts more song birds

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • The tiny nugget size is great for smaller birds.
  • The nugget shape can mean less mess and easier cleanup and refills.
  • The berry flavor attracts fruit-loving birds like bluebirds, orioles, and cardinals.
  • This food can be offered on a platform feeder alongside other foods, for better variety, appeal, and nutrition.

Cons:

  • These suet nuggets include berry flavoring, rather than real fruit. Actual fruit would offer the birds more nutrition and might be more to their liking.
  • You’ll pay a higher price for the specialty shape of this suet, and you might need to shop around for the best deal.

Pine Tree Farm’s Never Melt Suet Berry Cake

Pine Tree Farms Never Melt Suet Berry Cake 12 oz. 3011 Made in USA (6)
  • 6 Pack Of Pine Tree Farms Suet Berry Cake 12 oz.
  • Contains peanuts, corn, rendered beef suet, blueberry flavoring, dried blueberries, vitamins and mineral.
  • No artificial pellets and berries are used.

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • These cakes include real blueberries mixed with peanuts and beef suet
  • Rendered for a higher melting point.
  • Available in bulk for greater savings.

Cons:

  • Some customers complain of low seeds and inconsistent quality.

Woodpecker Party Treat Wild Bird Suet

Blue Seal Woodpecker Party Suet Treat Bar | Attracts Wild Birds | 8 oz (12 Pack)
  • PREMIUM TREAT BARS: Blue Seal Treat Bars are perfect for generating extra energy needed to fuel reproduction in the spring and to...
  • QUALITY INGREDIENTS: Blue Seal offers superior, quality ingredient suet treat bars in a variety of flavors.
  • CONVENIENT YEAR-ROUND FEEDING: Our suet treats are designed to work with a variety of suet feeders year round.

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • A 12-pack for a great value.
  • It includes a variety of grains and seeds for the birds to enjoy.

Cons:

  • This cake doesn’t contain actual suet–that is, there’s no rendered beef fat in it.

Kaytee Wild Bird Suet & Seed Mini Suet Cake

Sale
Kaytee Wild Bird Suet & Seed High Energy Mini Suet Cake, 11.75 Ounces
  • Includes a tray, making it easy to slip into the Kaytee Feeder station
  • Refrigerated or frozen suet can make filling the feeding station virtually mess-free
  • Great for year-round feeding

Last update on 2022-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • This cake has real ingredients: beef suet, oats, corn, white millet, and black sunflower seeds.
  • Rendered for a higher melting point (90 degrees).
  • Thousands of positive reviews on Amazon.

Cons:

  • Significantly higher price point than most suet out there.

The “Suet” Life

Suet is an easy-to-use, calorie-dense food for birds in the coldest times of the year.

It’s available in many flavors and shapes that are sure to please the palates of almost every bird species. Offering a variety of types should keep your feeders busy!

Keeping fresh and avoiding melting are the keys to offering suet safely–both of which are easy to do in the colder months when naturally cold temperatures keep suet at its best. Enjoy watching the birds as they dive into their holiday treat!

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Stevie Miller

Stevie Miller is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Her lifelong passion for birds began young, starting with a citizen science project at her aunt’s bird feeders, followed by a memorable first-time birdwatching trip to Assateague Island. Later, she got the opportunity to help birds directly while working as a veterinary assistant. Now she enjoys frequent time outdoors, traveling extensively to observe the birds, animals, and plants that inspire her writing and artwork.