Suet Bird Feeders – Big Secret to Help Bring More Birds to Your Yard

Suet bird feeders are a staple feeder in the wild bird feeding stations of many people and beef suet is a favorite food of many insect eating bird species. It has a high fat content providing internal heat to keep birds warm in the winter and to prepare birds for migration and recuperation after migration. Chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, creepers and jays are all fond of this food source and suet is practically the only food that will attract woodpeckers consistently. Raw beef suet, which was easy to find in grocery store meat departments seven to ten years ago, is hard to find these days. However, several companies in the wild bird feeding industry have developed suet cakes which are made to fit in modern suet bird feeders. These suet cakes, in many cases, have been refined such that they do not melt and drip in warm weather like the old raw suet did making it much easier to feed. They are also inexpensive and readily available at most department and hardware stores and at any bird specialty shop. The manufacturers are even making suet cakes with bird approved additives such as seeds, fruits, peanut butter and freeze dried or dehydrated insects to attract even more species of birds.

There are a number of different ways to serve suet to your backyard birds. The simplest is in a wire suet basket, approximately 6 by 6 inches in size, made especially for this purpose. These baskets may be pole mounted or mounted to a fence, wall, tree, or they may be hung from a wire or tree branch. We even mount them on the sides of our hopper type bird feeders.

Woodpeckers are big time suet eaters. These birds utilize their stiff tails as props for balance when they eat. Several companies have developed a tail prop suet feeder. These feeders have an additional solid space below the suet basket to accommodate the stiff tail of the woodpecker making feeding more natural. These are made of wood such as cedar or recycled poly lumber made out of recycled milk and drink bottles with the wire basket built in. The woodpeckers feel comfortable feeding from these feeders and the clinging birds such as the chickadees, nuthatches and titmice are also able to use them.

In some areas larger suet eating birds such as starlings and jays make serious inroads on the suet supplies provided by backyard birders. If this is the case in your area, try an upside down suet bird feeder. These feeders generally consist of a roof with the suet basket underneath the roof. The birds approach the feeder from the bottom and hang upside down to eat from it. The starlings and jays have a hard time hanging from the feeder to feed while the smaller suet eaters, who have extremely strong legs and toes, are generally more acrobatic and have no problem eating from these feeders. These feeders are also made of wood such as cedar and recycled poly lumber. They are also attractive looking in the backyard decor.

For home bound birders, at least one company has developed a window mounted suet bird feeder. It attaches to a window by two suction cups and brings the birds up close and personal for easy observation from inside your home.

Traditional suet eaters include woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, creepers, titmice, wrens, thrashers, jays, starlings, sparrows, finches and bluebirds. All of these will eat suet from one or more of the above mentioned feeders. Suet, when chopped into tiny pieces and spread out on a platform or tray type bird feeder, will often attract wintering warblers such as Myrtle Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow-throated Warblers and Palm Warblers.

Some areas, like the area we live in, do not have an abundance of traditional suet eaters. Our Cactus Wrens, Curve-billed Thrashers, House Finches and an occasional White-crowned Sparrow in winter come to eat from our suet feeders so we always keep at least one full of suet. The other suet feeders in our yard are sent into multi-tasking mode. Several are filled with half an orange in spring, summer and fall to attract orioles, mockingbirds, tanagers, catbirds and more species which do not readily come in to our seed feeders. During spring and early summer other suet feeders are stuffed with cotton and yarn tailings for the birds to use for nesting material. This draws nearly every species of bird in the neighborhood because they all have to build nests. We have seen flycatchers, gnatcatchers, wrens, vireos and warblers coming into this source of nesting material.

Suet bird feeders are, indeed, a staple feeder in the yards of many backyard bird watchers. Some species would not visit your yard without the suet and other species enjoy suet as a treat. However, you do not even have to serve suet in every suet feeder in your yard. With a little innovation you can draw even more bird species to your property. Suet bird feeders are a big secret to bringing more birds into your yard!