For many of our customers and rightly so, suet products have long been a favourite food to attract birds into their gardens. However, our main supplier of all types of suet-based product – so suet balls, suet blocks and suet pellets etc. – has had to temporarily shut their manufacturing facility due to the virus crisis.

Along with the exceptionally high demand over the last few weeks, our supplier’s closure has meant that we’ve virtually run out of suet products – with the only exception being our standard suet balls that we do still have stock of. This being the case, we’re outlining here two alternative foods to suet that we do have in stock which you can put out for your garden birds.

Sultanas are a great alternative to suet pellets

If you normally feed suet pellets on a ground feeder, bird table or straight on the ground for species such as blackbird, song thrush and starling, then sultanas are a great alternative as they are high in sugar which birds convert into energy. The important thing to do at this time of year though, is to firstly soak them in cold water for half an hour or so. This is to ensure that if they’re fed to nestlings or fledglings, then they’ll hold sufficient liquid to help maintain hydration levels for the young birds. So soaked sultanas are a great alternative to suet pellets, and are suitable for both adult birds and their young.

Peanuts in a mesh feeder instead of fat balls and suet blocks

Long before suet balls (also called fat balls), suet blocks and related products came onto the market, the go-to way of feeding birds such as blue tit, long-tailed tit, siskin, great spotted woodpecker and other species which naturally cling to something to feed, was peanuts in a mesh feeder. For many people this is still a method they use, but in the absence of suet products will now become essential for anyone serious about feeding the birds in their garden. We have good stocks of peanuts in various bag sizes, plus mesh feeders if you don’t already have one. Note that peanuts should only ever be fed from a mesh feeder, as feeding them loose can result in birds such as robins choking on them.

The combination of providing soaked sultanas and peanuts makes particular sense at this time of year, as the sultanas provide all-important moisture and therefore hydration (as well as energy) for nestlings and fledglings, with peanuts providing adult birds with an energy boost.

Once our supplier of suet products reopens their manufacturing facility and we get all the products back in stock, we’ll let you all know. But for now, the best alternatives are soaked sultanas on the ground, on a ground feeder or bird table, plus peanuts in a mesh feeder.