DIY Bird Feeder using Rat Wire, Suet and Trees

With the last snow storm, our birds were struggling to find food and compete with the blackbirds (or grackles) that were marauding the feeder.  The marauders have to eat, too.  I wanted to put out a couple of more feeders with homemade suet.  I lacked containers, so I asked husbando if he had an appropriate wire available.

He indicated that he had a piece of rat wire.  After studying many clever ways of making a suet holder for the rat wire.  I wasn't up to making a wood frame.  I toyed with a number of other alternatives.  After brief consideration, and because the wire is pretty darn stiff, I determined that so long as I had a good tree crook, I could use the tree to provide the structure.
Rat wire

 I cut the piece of rat wire that I had in two (it could not have been more than a 9" x 15" piece). on simply cutting the piece that I had in two.  Rat wire is easy relatively easy for a novice to work with.  It is very STIFF!  That stiffness is why it works so well in this application.  Also, the ends, if they protrude as they do on the picture, will scratch you badly.

I had a pair of nippers and wire cutters.  The nippers seem to work more easily for cutting off all of the sharp ends all of the way around on each of my 2 pieces.  That was the most time consuming part of the projet.  .  You could also use Kline's, needle nose or craft wire cutters. 

After clipping, bent it gently rolled it lengthwise so that I could place suet in it and shove into a crook of the tree.  Because the wire is so stiff, once shoved into a sturdy enough croor, it is unbelievably secure.  The wire (and the tree) give the birds lots of purchase for perching and eating.   You could also shove pencils or a wooden dowels through to provide additional places for perching.

I took a picture.  My bird friends have been enjoying it from all angles--perched on any of the edges.

In fact, as I was taking this picture, the birds were scolding me to go away so that they could eat.  This feeder is in the crook of a Japanese maple tree in front of my house.  I can look out my office window and seeThe juncos and the downey wood pecker have been particularly frequenting it.  As I write a pair of blue jays have found it.  The finches don't eat from it, but they hog almost every perch on the regular feeder.  Luckily they shove their bill in like a shovel and spill seed for the ground feeders.

For the mix, I simply melted down lard, crunchy natural peanut butter (which I found at my salvage store) with corn meal and then mixed in a millet seed mix.  As the oils are room temperature hard, once it sets, it is sturdy.  Accordingly the rat wire structure simply needs to provide an extended support beyond the tree crook.   A 2' x 5' piece of rat wire is $8.77 at Home Depot.  You can make a lot of inexpensive bird feeders using this inexpensive wire.  If you don't have wire cutters, they are inexpensive. 

After you make your mix and let it set up, set your wire on some wax paper.  Glop your hardened mix on top the wire and compress it (use another piece of wax paper for the top side).  You now have a solid piece of food that your feathered friends will delight in.

If you like to feed birds, this is a skill-friendly (e.g. novice), budget-friendly way to help your feathered friends out during the winter and early spring. If you don't have wire cutters, consider getting some so that you can complete easy projects such as this.   Suet and summer are not compatible.  You can take your wire down, clean it and be ready for the next season!


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