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ibstubro's avatar

Bird feeder/watchers: IYO do birds actually favor one "flavor" of suet cake over another?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) February 27th, 2016

Or is it just a gimmick to get us to buy more suet?

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12 Answers

Mariah's avatar

Maybe not for “flavor” exactly, but for different nutritional benefits? I could buy that they have preferences, though.

I know the titmice will pick through our variety of food, throwing away everything but the peanuts. Whether they prefer the taste of the peanuts or the peanuts just provide nutrients they really need is a mystery!

Cruiser's avatar

All I know is there is this Coopers Hawk that favors Sparrows over Cardinals and Chickadees.

Seriously birds do favor higher quality feed. When I run out of my regular seed mix and buy cheaper big box bird feed to get by until I can make the run to the feed store, my feeder has a layer of millet remaining that even the squirrels won’t eat.

syz's avatar

I agree, the brand that I use (not necessarily the flavor) has a huge impact on how quickly they eat the stuff up.

gondwanalon's avatar

They seem to like the small black sunflower seeds the best here in Tacoma Washington. The hummers like 50% sugar water.

Cruiser's avatar

@gondwanalon Do you really use 50% sugar? I use 20% and seem to do just fine. Any reason(s) you can share about a higher concentration of sugar for HB’s? I would love to attract more.

msh's avatar

I used oiled black sunflower seed. For suet: a regular “fresh” flavor and a berry in another. Some birds prefer one over the other. ( The big fat furry-birds with fluffy tails enjoy it all.) Make sure to find out when the store stocks the product and amount of time shelf-life. The birds can tell the difference- as stated above. If they aren’t eating the cake, cut it up for pieces to put on tree branches or nails on a fence, etc., for four legged wild-things. Make a deal for purchase number for fresh oiled sunflower seed and suet, and fresher products may be available to you for….. a song. (bad pun)
Hummers I put near bright blooms or colors. I use a 40-ish mixture all Summer until migration South- then it’s 50/50 for energy. Watch for increase of sugar ants, wasps, & yellow-jackets when boosted in the Fall. Purchase large-bloom sunflower seeds to grow inside in bright light starting in egg shells in March/April. Transfer out to protected areas or around Mommy’s Day for sure.(It has snowed here at the end of April before.) Then let the birds have fun. Best part before the flowers turn to seed, is to see the sleepy little bumblebees on the flower face and green leaves around the bloom in the early AM. They are so sluggish and loathe to wake up, and will preen for a bit until the dew wears off.
If you get all bird-foodies used to a call when you replenish feeders et.al., you will get to see who is waiting- and the list will grow as word spreads. Either that or they can spot the neon ‘sucker’ sign on the roof that only animals and wildlife can spot. Like: Good Eats Here! Or -Stray Animal’s B&B!
This is one of Life’s wonderful things – it also keeps you quiet about some of the other life-stuff the rest of the time. You figure out just how little a part you play in the bigger scheme of things when out of doors. No one holds that ‘best of show’ prize. There aren’t any!

ibstubro's avatar

They make a suet cake for woodpeckers that I actually believe attracts woodpeckers. They don’t seem to hang out on the feeders unless that particular ‘flavor’ is loaded.

When I buy suet, it’s usually on sale, and I’ll usually buy 2 of each ‘flavor’....orange, apple, blueberry, mealworm, woodpecker, etc.
Certain birds seems to like certain ‘types’ like woodpecker and mealworm over ‘flavor’. I just wondered if anyone had put the cakes out one at a time and paid some attention to what birds came.
Right now I have 3 different cakes in one feeder, so it’s a bird no-brainer.

syz's avatar

@gondwanalon I’ve always read that too high a sugar concentration can cause dehydration in hummers. I can find no concrete evidence to support that, but the across-the-board recommendation seems to be 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Surely a 50% concentration is too syrupy?

Coloma's avatar

I rarely used real suet and made a peanut butter and corn meal dough for the birds. Everyone gobbled it up pronto from Nuthatches and Chickadees to various woodpeckers and then the flying squirrels discovered it and it was a never ending task to keep the logs stuffed. haha
The PB mix attracted everything in droves.

Strauss's avatar

@msh big fat furry birds with fluffy tails

I’m assuming you mean the flightless kind.

gondwanalon's avatar

@Cruiser, @syz It gets cold here in Tacoma and the hummers need all the energy that they can get to stay warm. As far as dehydrating goes, I don’t thing it’s possible to dehydrate in Tacoma in the Winter. It’s like constant pee soup weather here. HA!

msh's avatar

@Yetanotheruser yep. When eating suet they become: ‘You little pigs get outta here! Shoo’, is often heard.
Chipmunks are referred to as ‘zippys’. (sic)
You can practically hear the ‘Poof!’ when they’re spooked.

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