Thankful Outdoors: Feeding Our Little, Feathered Friends

Homemade suet is easy to make. Check out Scott's recipe below.

Submitted to OnFocus – This week I would like to share with you the topic of birds. The joy of watching a bird feeder is a combination of growing up in the woods watching them feed in the backyard. It was also the joy that Grandma Hopperdietzel spent years doing.

There was never a visit with Grandma that didn’t include time sitting there watching the squirrels and birds come to feed. Her favorite bird was the cardinal. Whenever I see one, I always think about her. The squirrels would make Grandma chuckle/snort with their antics at the feeder.

Those visits are missed, as you could spend hours with her just watching all the birds and squirrels in her yard. Not sure what she loved more, feeding the birds or cheering for the Packers!

As time passes, I have found that I try to keep a feeder going more frequently. The local birds that stay here year around appreciate the easy meal. It will be a few more weeks, and the migration will start for the birds that had traveled south for the winter.  This is the time of year where I focus on keeping a feeder going.

I recently learned that February is National Bird Feeding Month, I never knew that there was such a thing, but it seems like there are all kinds of National Days or Months to bring awareness to something.

Those late snowstorms in April can make it difficult for birds to find feed; keeping a feeder station going for them helps them out considerably.

Here is where I would like to share how you can use deer scraps to provide a treat to your feathered friends. When I skin deer, I will take the thick layers of fat and feed the birds. It always seemed like a waste of throwing that out, so I started to find a way to use it.

You can use this deer fat to make your suet; if pressed for time, I take the fast approach, grinding the fat, just like I would the burger meat. The fat will grind better if you have it slightly frozen. After you grind, though, you will want the fat to rise to room temperature. It should have a somewhat greasy feel to it.

Take some of your birdfeed and now mix that with the ground fat, shape into balls around tennis ball to baseball size. Set onto a cookie sheet and freeze.

Frozen Suet

Purchase mesh fruit bags online; this is a simple way to hang your suet outside. You could save your produce bags from your grocery shopping, but I never seem to have enough on hand when I need them, so I found it easier to order them online. It could be a sign that maybe I need to eat more fruit in my life!

Keep the suet balls stored in a freezer until ready for use. These suet balls work best in cooler temperatures; once you start getting into the higher temperatures, these fat suet balls will begin to drip and melt.

There are no-melt suet balls recipes that you can find on Pinterest; here is one that I plan on trying this year.

You could take a more in-depth approach to use the deer fat in your creation of suet balls; that process includes melting or “rendering” the fat down. This process makes the deer fat purer. Our feathered friends will greatly appreciate either method you decide to use to create your suet balls.

All of this talk about birds brings an old saying to mind “birds of a feather flock together.” This saying made me think about a recent surprising text message that I received from my friend Jordan. Jordan and I had not spent time together in many years. We used to spend quite a bit of time fishing; I think he is the best walleye fisherman that I know.

His text message of “I’m in town for the weekend, staying in the shack over by George’s Landing”; made my Friday evening plans change, and I soon found my way heading out onto the ice to catch up with my old fishing buddy.

Jordan also had a buddy from college out for the adventure. Our trio spent the next several hours sharing fishing stories, talking about kids and relationships. Sharing a few drinks as we waited for the walleye night bite to take place on the Big Eau Pleine.

The night bite never really picked up; in my time with the guys, we had one flag go off. The prize fish was a bullhead! Nonetheless, the time spent with these “birds of a feather” was enjoyed! Jordan did manage to catch a few keepers in his weekend outing, though.

In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!

We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!

Scott Hopperdietzel
Author: Scott Hopperdietzel

Scott Hopperdietzel is the creator of an outdoor blog named Thankful Outdoors. He shares his passion for the outdoors with readers. The focus of the blog is to “Celebrate the Experience” in his stories; you feel what the connection to the outdoors means to him. His goal is to inspire others to get into the outdoors and create their own experience. Along with writing, he is a father to three boys who are often part of the adventures along with the family Weimaraner, Boone. You can find his writings on the website www.thankfuloutdoors.com or follow his social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.