Most people who feed the birds hang a suet feeder, particularly if they live in a region where the winters are cold. Cakes and balls of suet, seed, and even peanut butter mixtures are available commercially and there are a variety of wire suet feeders on the market. Both suet mixes and feeders, however, can be created easily by the do-it-yourself birdwatcher.
A Suet Feeder That You Can Easily Make
Here’s a suet feeder that’s so attractive you may decide to take down your cage style suet feeder and hang this instead. All you need are a few basic tools and materials:
- a hardwood stem or branch section at least 15 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter
- a saw
- an electric drill and wood drill bits—one inch or larger
- an eye screw hook
- a piece of cord
- Trim the ends of the wood to the desired length. At least one end should be cut neatly with a saw so that an eye screw hook can be screwed into it.
- Use an electric drill to drill large holes through the wood at intervals. The larger the diameter of the wood, the larger the holes can be. For the best effect, drill alternating holes at right angles to each other. The holes can go all the way through or stop blindly inside the wood.
- Screw an eye screw hook into the middle of one end of the feeder.
- Thread a piece of cord through the eye screw hook so the feeder can be hung from a tree branch or hook.
- Fill the holes with suet mix.
- Hang the feeder where you can watch the birds enjoying the treat.
Tips for Filling the Suet Feeder
Some bird food suppliers sell suet cups to fit a standard size hole; however, it is easy to melt a suet cake or make your own suet mix to fill the holes:
- If the holes don’t go all the way through, simply lay the feeder horizontally, spoon melted suet mix into the holes and allow it to harden.
- If the holes go all the way through the wood, nestle the feeder in a bag of crushed ice (a bag of frozen peas or corn works too) and fill the holes.
- Wait five to ten minutes before turning the feeder to fill other holes.
Where to Hang a Suet Feeder
The best location for suet feeders is in the shade, where the fat will stay cool longer on warm days. It may be necessary to try a few locations to find one that birds are comfortable with. Always hang birdfeeders away from brush and other features that can conceal predators such as cats. Remember, too, that suet is attractive to other animals such as dogs and raccoons, so hang it well off the ground in an inaccessible location if possible.
Birds That Come to Suet Feeders
Lots of different birds visit suet feeders, depending on the species present in the area. They include bluebirds, grosbeaks, Blue Jays, kinglets, mockingbirds, nuthatches, orioles, tanagers, warblers, and woodpeckers. Starlings, grackles, and crows are also attracted to suet, but many people try to discourage these species, probably because of their voracious appetites. A log style suet feeder presents a challenge to these species because they can’t perch on top of it and reach the suet easily.