Oct 17, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2018

Woodpecker-Friendly Suet Feeders

A woodpecker partakes from a backyard suet feeder.
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If you get the chance, take a good look at a woodpecker's tail feathers. From the dinky downy to the massive pileated, woodpecker tail feathers are unlike the feathers on the bird's body or wings: They're super strong and rigid, and collectively serve as a stable prop against a tree trunk as a woodpecker hammers it with its bill. A suet feeder designed with a tail prop extending below the suet dispenser mimics a tree trunk and allows woodpeckers to feel comfortable and secure as they dine. Sure, woodpeckers do visit platform, hopper, and even the occasional tube feeder that lacks a tail prop, but a suet feeder with a tail prop, or one hanging against a solid surface such as a tree trunk, is even more attractive to them.



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  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018
  • I had a pair nesting for the first time this year at our farmstead in South Dakota. Boxes put out for Bluebirds which didn't come, but these were a very pleasant consolation.
    by fluffypeanutcat, Tue, 25 Sep 2018
  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018