There are many ways to participate in wildlife conservation, and you don’t have to venture far to do it!

Did you know you can make your own food to support birds in your community? Springtime is an especially great opportunity to help out our winged friends, many of whom are eagerly searching for food along their long migratory journey. Not only is making your own bird feed a great way to participate in community conservation, it’s a fun activity for all ages!

Suet is a mix of solidified fat, such as peanut butter, and seeds that provides a highly nutritious meal for many bird species. Here is a simple recipe, adapted from the National Audubon Society for how to make your own suet at home! This recipe is designed to provide food for a variety of birds you may find in your backyard, including woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice. This recipe is designed for temperatures 50 and below, so it is perfect for springtime in Minnesota!

Here is what you will need to make the suet:

  • 1 1/2 cups shortening (look for palm oil free or certified sustainable options)
  • 3/4 cups nut butter (any kind)
  • 3 1/2 cups wild bird seed
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • Ice cube tray


  1. Mix the dry ingredients of bird seed, oats, and corn meal together and set aside.
  2. Combine the shortening and nut butter in a separate bowl and melt. Stir until completely combined.
  3. Pour the melted mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Spoon mixture into the ice cube tray.
  5. Freeze for one to two hours and place in your suet feeder or tie from a string!

Consider keeping a field journal of the birds that visit your feeder, or participate in citizen science programs, such as eBird!

The Minnesota Zoo would love to see examples of how you used this activity at home! Please share pictures or comments via email at [email protected], and take less than 5 minutes of time to provide us feedback by completing this short survey.