Oct 5, 2016 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2016

Suet Feeder Types

Woodpeckers are more comfortable at feeders that provide a tail prop.

The most affordable suet feeder is a square metal "cage." It has a door that opens and latches closed after filling. Many people hang it from a shepherd's hook, a tree branch, or a deck rafter, but such a free-hanging arrangement is difficult for larger woodpeckers to use.

Woodpeckers naturally feed with their tail propped against the trunk of a tree for stability. Some suet cages are built with a tail prop underneath to accomplish this, or a simple cage can be mounted against a wooden post or tree. Some platform feeders have suet cages built in, and the design often allows woodpeckers a place to perch comfortably as they dine on the fatty treat.

Starling-proof suet feeders allow access to the suet only from the bottom; the roof and sides are solid, but the bottom is wire mesh. Such feeders make it difficult—but not impossible—for starlings to get to the suet, but woodpeckers, chickadees, wrens, and most other birds that enjoy suet have no problem getting to it. Create your own suet feeder by drilling holes into a small log, and filling them tightly with suet and/or peanut butter. Drill a hole and install a metal eye, and suspend the log with wire.

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  • I live in Southeastern Massachusetts. Four "orphaned" very young poults (males) showed up in my yard about a year ago. They have been around all year. I do feed them cracked corn, and they come when I call for them. I don't want to over- domesticate them, but they do recognize me as the lady that brings food. They roost in the big oak trees at night. I have a 1 acre lot, with many acres of protected forest out back and a pond on the property.Lately, during mating season, I have had hens in the yard too. We've counted as many as 7 Toms and hens, but today, had just the one stalwart (a very robust Tom) that comes everyday. One of the Toms that has recently made an appearance is wounded, limping with an obvious predator wound. The local wildlife experts say he should make a full recovery, and that he's best left to recover with his flock.I find them to be interesting and beautiful birds.
    by Heather Cole, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • You have to put food in it.
    by Truckee Man, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020