Hello, friends! I'm taking a break and it might take me a few days to reply to comments and emails. I'll be back! :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Greetings from the vestibule of my hermit hole! How is 2016 treating you? Marvelously, I hope. Are you staying warm? And are my southern hemisphere friends staying cool? I've been hiding under my electric blanket with a cup of hot tea glued to my right hand whenever possible. My left hand has a firm grip on the remote control. Don't even try to pry it out of my frozen claw. This is how I hibernate.

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Our poor little backyard birds have been having a rough, cold week here. How do they even make it out there? They're so tiny and delicate! Our bird feeders have been extra busy these past couple of weeks. The woodpeckers love to eat those suet cakes that have bits of nuts and seeds and corn in them, but the ones that they sell at most wild bird supply stores or big retailers like Walmart are all made with beef fat. The reason I came out of my hermit hole today is to share a recipe for coconut oil "suet" cakes.

These are not something we'd make all year round because coconut oil is expensive and we are not made of money, but also because it must be cold enough outside for the coconut oil to remain solid. I don't really measure the ingredients because it's basically just a bit of melted coconut oil with a lot of chunky stuff thrown in, but I did take notes and pictures when I was making this suet cake so I could share them with you in case you want to make some for your wild birds. Let's do this!

Coconut Oil Suet Cake for Wild Birds

2.5oz (70g) coconut oil
1 heaping tbsp unsalted, natural peanut butter
2oz (60g) chopped unsalted nuts (they love peanuts and whatever nuts I may have from the bulk bins)
2oz (60g) cracked corn
1oz (30g) millet
about 1 tbsp cornmeal
about 1 tbsp oats

The instructions are quite simple. Gently melt the oil and the peanut butter together either in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Done! You may need to use a bit more cornmeal and/or oats if you have too much soupy oil in your bowl. You can also use (unsalted) seeds instead of corn or millet. All the solid ingredients will sink to the bottom of the bowl or saucepan and you should have only a thin layer of oil at the top (see photo #3 below.) Now you just need to transfer it all into a mold and refrigerate it until it's completely solidified.

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet CakesCoconut Oil Suet Cakes
Coconut Oil Suet CakesCoconut Oil Suet Cakes

From top to bottom and left to right:

  1. Ingredients, assemble!

  2. Melted coconut oil and peanut butter.

  3. Nuts and other goodies mixed into the oil/peanut butter mix.

  4. The "suet" cake ready to be refrigerated.

  5. Dinner is ready! That type of suet cake holder can be found in most wild bird food shops and retail stores like Walmart or Target.

Now let's see what the customers think of these cakes.

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

Coconut Oil Suet Cakes

(Can't see the video of the woodpeckers enjoying their treat? Try this.)

I think they approve! I hope it helps keep their little bellies warm during the cold winter nights. The little Downy Woodpeckers and the larger Red-Bellied Woodpeckers love these. Unfortunately, the starlings love them too. Starlings will devour these "Vashta Nerada"* style. Our resident mocking bird has been eating these too. And we've even seen our tiny little juncos and even the sparrows eating tiny bites of this cake.

Alrighty then. I've done my damage here. Back to my hermit hole!

* If you're not a Doctor Who fan, that just means a swarm of starlings will devour them swiftly!

EDIT: Don't worry if you can't find those suet holders in your area, do what Starr does and use string to hang the suet cakes!


  1. Awww! Love how he take a piece away, to his partner or kids? Lovely to see you pop out from hibernation :) See you in the spring? xo

    1. (3 of these are shocking)

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  2. I've noticed that our starlings are little feed demons too. And they never come alone, 10 - 20 will swarm our feeders at a time... I think I'm learning a pattern though. Our smaller birds seem to come in the mid afternoon. So if I put the feeders out then, they can have their share and the starlings can finish it off in the morning.

  3. You must have been out from under the covers more than a minute or two to get all those wonderful bird photos! I have everything except the corn and the holders (!) so I am real tempted to make some of these and then head to a bird store while the cakes chill. I saw commercial ones that used coconut shells for the holders and that seemed like a cool idea.

    Stay warm and cozy — just a few more months until spring. :)

  4. Isn't that cute? Do they have little birdie cellphones to let each other know when they need to bring something home? "Out of suet. Pick some up on your way home. Thx." I might do another bird themed post before I officially go back into hibernation. Remember Squeaky the wood duck? He's been hanging out here today and I've been trying to make a video of his little squeaks. No luck so far, but I'll keep trying!

  5. Feed demons is right! That's a good plan. We leave the food out there all day and the starling swarm pretty much inhales everything as soon as we put the food in the feeder. We're going to have to organize a feeding schedule too. We do have a mockingbird now that has been trying to keep the starlings at bay, but unfortunately all the other birds are scared of him too. So much bird drama! :)

  6. Coconut shell holders do sound pretty cool. I've never seen those around here. If you can't find any suet cages in your area you can also try Starr's method. All you need is silicone molds and string! I hope you get to make some and that your suet cakes bring all the birds to the yard! :)

  7. When I first saw the title of this post, I thought to myself: 'Is River trying to KILL me?'. And then I saw it was for sweet little birdies. And coconut oil may certainly exist in the world if it is to keep sweet little birdies fed over the chilly cold months.
    Lookit the woodpecker pecking away!
    Hope you are staying warm in your little hermit hole. It is summer down here at the moment!

    Oh, and thanks for reminding me that shadows are terrifying and want to EAT MY FLESH.

    Stay warm!

  8. I scared you with coconut oil and with the Vashta Nerada because I am eeevil! The woodpeckers pecking away at the suet cakes are always fun to watch - they are so determined to get their noms! I may have pecking woodpeckers but you have laughing (or thinking) kookaburras. Should we do a bird swap? You send me a couple of laughing kookaburras and I send you a couple of pecking woodpeckers? I'll start looking into the logistics of that.

    Stay cool! :)

    1. I don't mind your spamming. ;)
      Hmm... I will see how some Kookaburras feel about taking a trip over there! They might like to cool off in the winter there after a sweaty summer here.

    2. Thank you! I wanted to move back to Blogger stealthily without bothering anyone. That went well!

      Mr. Wing-It has been working hard on a new homemade bird feeder, so if the sweaty Kookaburras would like to test it out they'd be welcome here!

  9. Love this treat for the birds! And I love even more seeing a new post from you! Miss you, River! Hope all is well.

  10. Sorry I've been so antisocial lately! The winter blues have turned me into a great big antisocial hermit crab. I hope you and Ms. Chooey are having a nice 2016! :)

  11. You have some LUCKY backyard birds!! I may have to try this recipe out!

    I don't know what happened, but just today I got a River influx of posts in my RSS reader, way back through October. I'm not sure why they are only coming through now. I didn't comment on all of them (to save your inbox), but I loved catching up on your shenanigans!

    1. And I thought I had flawlessly transferred the feed from Wordpress back to Blogger without flooding people's readers and inboxes! Doh!

      We do have some lucky birds, but the little ingrates take us for granted. Do you get a lot of starlings in your backyard? We've had an obscene amount of them lately and they just eat everything. The poor native birds want to eat too! Good luck with the suet if you get a chance to make it! Bird nerds of the world, UNITE! :D

  12. Great job. I am planning to try this. Inspired! , THANKS

    Sathish from Buy Coconut Oil Online

  13. I've been researching this too but coconut oil is not good to feed to birds. The main issue is that it melts readily and can become a problem if it gets into their feathers. According to the RSPB it can impair the waterproofing which can result in death.

  14. Yes, is there another vegan suet recipe that WON'T melt at temperatures above 40 degrees (or better yet, that can hold up in the sun up to 70 degrees - we've had a warm winter in California).