Thrifting for the Birds…A DIY Suet Feeder

Thrifting for the Birds…A DIY Suet Feeder

It’s a new month which means it’s time for my latest upcycling project to appear on The Good Life Blog! This time, I decided to mix things up a little and do something outside. I *LOVE* a good DIY project for my yard and garden (especially for the birds), but a chilly South Carolina winter can make that challenging. But then I realized I could create a super simple & inexpensive suet feeder (perfect for winter) to hang in my yard…using a common thrift store item: Coffee Mugs!

If you walk into any Goodwill store, you’ll find a huge selection of coffee mugs- in every style, color, and shape you can imagine!

Thrift store coffee mugs for upcycling and repurposing DIY craft projects by Sadie Seasongoods / www.sadieseasongoods.com

You know…just a few choices…

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After selecting a few to purchase (I couldn’t pick just one!), I headed home and ran them through my dishwasher (because, even the birds deserve something fresh and clean, right?).

Thrift store coffee mugs for upcycling and repurposing DIY craft projects by Sadie Seasongoods / www.sadieseasongoods.com

My treasures!

Now, to transform them into suet feeders, you can do a couple of things: (1) melt down a pre-made store-bought suet cake, or (2) create your own suet using rendered beef fat and bird seed of your choice.

I opted to make my own as an experiment- so, while I melted some beef fat (purchased on the cheap from Whole Foods) on my stovetop, I created “perches” for my feeders using sticks from my yard! Doesn’t get any cheaper than that, does it? And I felt like I was doing a little yard work at the same time- bonus!

How to make a suet bird feeder for the winter yard and garden with a repurposed and upcycled thrift store coffee mug by Sadie Seasongoods / www.sadieseasongoods.com

Thrifty perches- free is awesome.

I added bird seed to my Goodwill mugs (about half-full in each one), and stuck my “perches” in the seed, at the opposite side from the handles. To ensure the perches stayed in place, I wrapped some wire around each one– just as insurance.

How to make a suet bird feeder for the winter yard and garden with a repurposed and upcycled thrift store coffee mug by Sadie Seasongoods / www.sadieseasongoods.com

Getting ready to make suet!

Then, I simply poured the melted suet (which, admittedly, smelled a little gross as it melted) into my mugs!

How to make a suet bird feeder for the winter yard and garden with a repurposed and upcycled thrift store coffee mug by Sadie Seasongoods / www.sadieseasongoods.com

Definitely not coffee!!

I placed my mug feeders in the fridge to cool down and allow the suet to harden- it took about an hour to re-solidify and I used my stick-perch to stir it periodically to evenly re-distribute the seed.

Once it was solid, I used a carabiner to hang my suet feeder in a tree! And if I didn’t already have a carabiner, I would have just used a loop of jute twine to tie it to a branch.

How to make a suet bird feeder for the winter yard and garden with a repurposed and upcycled thrift store coffee mug by Sadie Seasongoods / www.sadieseasongoods.com

Ready for the birds!

But…did they use it? YES THEY DID!!

How to make a suet bird feeder for the winter yard and garden with a repurposed and upcycled thrift store coffee mug by Sadie Seasongoods / www.sadieseasongoods.com

The birds are working away at it!

Such an easy, thrifty DIY- and a great use for all of those mugs at the thrift shop. And if you like DIY/Repurposed projects for birds, please check out my other ideas here!

Craft on!

S

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PIN ME!How to make a suet bird feeder for the winter yard and garden with a repurposed and upcycled thrift store coffee mug by Sadie Seasongoods / www.sadieseasongoods.com

Comments

  1. Love these. We will try it. I live in Charlotte and I must say, I’ve never seen so many coffee mugs and never displayed so well.

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Thanks, Karen! I live near the best (in my opinion) Goodwill in the entire Upstate, South Carolina region…so I admittedly have it pretty good. 🙂

  2. Love this idea Sarah. My local GW always has tons of mugs so going to pick a few to make suet bird feeders. Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. That is a really cute idea.

  4. What a perfectly perfect idea! It is very thrifty and cute!

  5. This is such a great idea! Thanks!

  6. Boy that is some creative thinking and so good for the birds. Poor little critters get so hungry in winter. I’d love to make few of those to hang in our trees out back. Think will cheat tho and buy already made suet to put in cups. I especially love your little mug that looks like a pitcher,what a find. How handy are you and good to birds creating this? Happy weekend

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Let me know if melting the store-bought suet cakes smells bad. Melting the beef fat was a little much, odor-wise. But I persevered…I had to for my sweet birds!!

  7. You have the greatest ideas Sadie! I’m on the hunt now for the perfect mugs to do this with. Pinning to share.

  8. I love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I love this!

  10. Great idea!

  11. I just love your blog. And, as birdwatchers/feeders, my husband and I will take this homemade suet feeder to heart and use it generously. We’ve been buying the suet blocks and may continue to do so as we have two of the block holders and the birds do love suet. It will help protect them and keep them warm and fed for the winter. Keep up the good work!

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Thank you so, so much, Barbara- I love hearing that. I actually need to go out and buy a new suet block for our cage feeder- thank you for the reminder! 😉

  12. This is such a cute yet simple way to feed the birds… And forget the thrift store, I have some mismatched mugs I’ve been wanting to get rid of! I’ve seen a ton of little birds this winter, maybe this will get them to finally hang out for some photos!

  13. What a cute idea! I’d love to try this. Pinning.

  14. What a nifty idea! Thanks for sharing….Christine

  15. Great idea! Thanks for sharing this with us on Throwback Thursday!!

    Mollie

  16. What a WONDERFUL idea! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  17. Do you have an idea for making a low feeding station for doves?

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Hmmm…good question! An interesting challenge for sure, since chipmunks and squirrels would definitely pilfer anything low and easy to access… have you reached out to NWF’s Certified Wildlife Habitat program to see if they have suggestions?

  18. What a great way to feed our feathered friends. I love this, and would be so easy to make. Thank you for sharing! Pinning!

  19. Sarah, this is soooo adorable!! Plus I love that it’s economical and super easy! Great project, especially for the winter! I would love for you to share this at out link party! http://www.thestonybrookhouse.com/2016/02/table-it-link-party-83.html

  20. The squirrels are always knocking down the feeder and this is a good way to make sure the birds are fed. Fabulous idea and thanks for sharing it at Celebrate Your Story!

  21. Sarah, This is such a cute idea! Thank you for sharing with us at Snickerdoodle Sunday 🙂 Pinning and tweeting to share.

  22. how do you make home made suet?

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Julie, did you read my post? I discussed how I made it…

      • hi- thanks for the response. I did. so you just boil up beef fat and put bird seed in it?

        • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

          Thanks, Julie- I didn’t boil it…just melted it straight in a sauce pan. The seeds were already in the mug and then I poured the rendered fat into the seed-filled mug. Hope this helps!

  23. I’ve seen so many bird feeders, never with coffee mugs! Pinning!

  24. does it have to be beef fat I have a lot of bacon fat? But super cute!

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      I am strongly NOT recommending bacon fat because of the high salt content. The suet cakes bought from the store are typically beef fat, which is why I used that…but there are also vegetarian options (like peanut butter).

  25. This is a great idea! Thank you!

  26. LOVE THIS IDEA! Pinning and sharing!

  27. Very cute idea! I find most people have some mugs in their cabinet they no longer want, and this is a great way to reuse them! I wonder if my squirrels would run off with them – maybe they are heavy enough… using the carabiner would help so much more than a simple hook! (visiting from #BragAboutIt)

  28. So I saw your post a few days ago, I bought my suet and will be making a couple of these for the little birdies.

    Thanks for sharing on Oh my Heartsie Girls WW
    Pinned and Tweeted from #OMHGWW
    Karren
    Oh My Heartsie Girl

  29. Love this idea of using coffee mugs. Such a good idea! My girls would enjoy making these and then watching the birds come and eat.

  30. How do you make the suet?

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Hi, Sue- thanks so much for reaching out. I actually discuss that in my blog post- from melting beef fat to adding the seeds. I hope that helps. 🙂

  31. rattlebridge farm says:

    Love this idea! I’ve seen teacups, but I hadn’t thought about turning a mug into a delightful suet feeder, perch included. My birds will love this.

  32. Amanda Kolb says:

    Love these! I need a few for my yard as I just can’t seem to keep the feeders full. Thank you for sharing at Merry Monday!

  33. meeshiesworld says:

    Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  34. I love your idea! How much beef fat did you buy and did it take long to melt it down? Have a great day and thank you for sharing your idea. Hugs,

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      I don’t recall how much was in the package, unfortunately. And I just cubed it up, so it took a long time to render…but one reader recommended grinding it in a meat grinder, which would have been so much better!

  35. oh, I love this idea – very clever! Blessings!

  36. I’m a bird lover, and I love mugs too–so of course I think this is absolutely perfect!

    gail
    ps pinning!

  37. Sadie… you continue to amaze me with the creative ideas that you come up with. Thanks again for sharing at the Celebrate Your Story Link Up Party!

  38. This is SO clever and practical! I love this idea and plan to make one. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  39. This is such a beautiful idea. My kids saw this pic and told me they want to make it! Love it!

  40. any other alternative for suet? Live in a small town and cant get it here. Love your idea.

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Hey, Janis! Im sure peanut butter would work, but a pricier option. Perhaps you could order the ready-made Suet cakes online, and just melt them down?

  41. Such a clever idea! I didn’t even know you could purchase beef fat! I was wondering if the squirrels are staying away from this vs. just the bird seed? Thank you so much for coming by and sharing at Celebrate Your Story! I hope we see you again this week!

  42. This is such a neat idea! How cool!

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  43. Another fantastic project Sarah! How cool and what a great use for something we all have hanging around the house. Thank you so much for linking this up to the Bewitchin’ Projects Block Party last week. You are one of my featured picks over at Recreated Designs again tomorrow and on Facebook on Wednesday. Hugs, Lisa

  44. Crystal @whattreasuresawait says:

    What a great idea snd so easy! I will have to try this! Thanks for sharing at Welcome Home Wednesdays!

  45. Would melting Crisco or lard work, in place of the beef fat? (to avoid the stinky smell in the kitchen) ;o)

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      That’s a good question, Judith- I’d recommend seeing if Audubon or National Wildlife Federation could answer that for you. Bacon fat would have too much salt, but I don’t know if Crisco is safe for wildlife or not…

  46. Es muy buena la idea gracias!!

  47. Lovely idea cant wait to have a go

  48. This is so great! I love that you thrifted something to help the little birds out. Thanks for sharing it at the This is How We Roll Link Party. This post is a host favorite and is featured on 4 blogs and more! See you this week.

  49. I love this idea. Very unique.

  50. Sarah, I’m a big fan or repurposing projects and I’m so excited about this bird feeder. It would make wonderful gifts, too. Thanks for sharing at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party. Pinning now.

  51. I just love your blog! You have the cutest and best ideas for recycling, upcycling, and making great creations. Keep up the good work!

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Thank you so very much, Barbara. I am so humbled that you took time out of your day to leave me this wonderful comment- I sincerely mean that!

  52. Quick question… Does the twig perch fall out at some point as the suet is eaten? I wonder if it would work to super glue the twig to the inside of the cup before you did the suet? Love this neat project, I can see putting a few of these in my yard! Thanks for sharing!

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      It does fall out eventually, but by then, the smaller birds (like my chickadees) can just sit in the cup and snack away. I wouldn’t want the suet to touch the super glue (even if it’s dry), but you could always replace with a shorter stick that wouldn’t fall out until the very end! 🙂

  53. This may be a dumb question but do you know the meting temp point for the homemade suet? Wondering how cold it needs to be outside

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      Hmmm, that’s a very good question…but I don’t know the answer to it. A butcher might, though!

  54. Oh what a neat idea! 🙂

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  55. A fun idea for the winter months! I’d love to make this with my kindergarten kids! Thanks for sharing at Sweet Inspiration!!!

  56. Kathey-Jo Duxbury says:

    Can you use Crisco? Or bacon fat?

    • sarahwpb@yahoo.com says:

      My understanding from Audubon and other bird experts is that bacon fat would be way too salty. I don’t know about Crisco- lard, however, should work!

  57. Very nice! Carabiner seems like a good investment because jute would probably break over time and cause your mug to fall to the ground.

    Reading this, I wondered about melting, and I found this from the Baltimore Bird Club:

    “Suet is solid at room temperature, and so long as outside temperatures remain below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, all you have to do is put out raw beef fat. Trim excess fat off beef cuts before cooking, or buy suet from your butcher or grocer. If the temperature is warmer, beef fat can melt or turn rancid, and it’s safer to use cakes of hard rendered suet. You can buy commercial suet cakes, or you can make your own using rendered suet.”

  58. Love the design but… I was wondering is it natural for birds to eat beef fat? Or any fat for that matter? Beef products come at such a high cost to the environment, I was wondering if this would work with a responsibly sourced saturated plant fat. I might try that but I’m going to do a little research to make sure we aren’t feeding our feathered friends something that isn’t good for them.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says:

      Hi, Stephanie- great questions! I actually did a lot of background research on this topic before I launched this project. Yes, birds eat beef fat all the time- in fact, the very definition of “suet” is beef (or other mammal) fat, and store bought suet cakes are rendered beef fat. It’s usually the cheapest type of animal fat- all I ever recommend is that one never uses bacon fat because of the sodium. And you CAN use vegetable shortening for a vegetarian option- I had vegetarians contact me about this because they wanted to make these for their yards, but didn’t want to purchase or handle animal fat. Audubon has a great article on making vegetarian “suet”, which you could use in your mug! http://www.audubon.org/news/make-your-own-suet

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