A Raccoon is Eating My Suet!

Suet Feeder in the Birdbath
Suet Feeder in the Birdbath

Just as I was congratulating myself that I had gotten my various bird feeders strategically set up around my yard so that they attracted the birds I wanted to attract while keeping squirrels out of the seed . . . a new visitor from nature arrived. While I have yet to actually lay eyes on the furry creature, I’m confident that I’ve got a raccoon as a new yard visitor or resident. Here is the evidence of the critter’s crimes against my bird feeders and my strategy for (hopefully) thwarting the raccoon’s attacks on the food I put out for the birds.

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Bird Feeder Baffles in the Wind

Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the Suet Feeder
Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the Suet Feeder

Here in Maryland today, the sun is shining and the wind is gusting. It is beautiful, but gusty wind can sometimes cause problems with hanging feeders.

If you’ve got both hanging bird feeders and squirrels in your yard, you probably have baffles as well. Get the right baffle and you can succeed in both keeping squirrels out of the seed and keeping the feeder a little more protected from wet weather. But while this type of baffle can be great, when you add gusty winds to the mix, things can get very interesting. How do you keep the baffled feeder from kiting around in the wind?

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Acrobatic Grackles at My Suet Feeders

Common Grackle Dangling From Suet Feeder
Common Grackle Dangling From Suet Feeder

This spring we’ve had a small but very tenacious group of Common Grackles in the yard. They were first dominating the Squirrel Buster Plus feeders, full of sunflower hearts, driving away the smaller birds. Grackles need to eat too of course, but with grackles, the first day you’ll have one. The next day there will be two. Succeeding days will bring three then five then seven . . . So a change was in order.

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Birds Choice Roofed Upside Down Suet Feeder Review

Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeder with Erva Baffle
Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeder with Erva Baffle

Suet is incredibly popular in the spring. In my yard it is arguably more popular this time of year than any of the seed in the feeders. Even if you are someone who doesn’t feed birds in warmer weather, I do encourage you to at least put out suet in the spring and early summer, as you will be rewarded with mom and dad birds visiting repeatedly to bring suet back to their babies and then bringing their fledglings to the suet directly. (And of course woodpeckers and quite a few other birds enjoy suet year round as long as it is the melt-free type that is less likely to go bad in hot weather.)

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Where to Hang a Suet Feeder?

Red-Bellied Woodpecker Eating Suet
Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker Eating Suet

Location, Location, Location. This is as true when it comes to bird feeders as it is to the restaurants we humans like to visit. You can have a really great, well-designed bird feeder with fresh appealing food in it and get no or very few birds if the location is wrong. I’ve found that finding the right spot can make all the difference. Here is what I’ve learned about where to place suet feeders. It may just give you some ideas on where to place your own!

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Starling Proofing the Suet

Suet Feeders
Suet Feeders Protected with Plastic

Most of the year, I don’t get European Starlings in the yard, but winter snows bring all kinds of birds to the feeders. Starlings are actually kind of pretty if you take the time to look at them closely . . . but they can be a real pain when they latch onto the suet feeders. In my experience, most birds will sit on or next to a suet feeder and eat for a minute or even up to five. Starlings will settle on top of a suet cage and eat and eat and eat until the suet is gone. They won’t move, except maybe for a squirrel, so the other birds get nothing.

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Deterring Squirrels with Hot Pepper Suet?

Hot Pepper Suet
Hot Pepper Suet

Ok. The idea of suet flavored with hot peppers has always sounded pretty nasty to me. But when squirrels start driving you crazy, your views can change. I currently have seven suet cage feeders up around my house. During the warmer months and even into the cool days of fall, the squirrels left them mostly alone, only occasionally taking a nibble. But when the temperatures dropped into the teens and twenties, the squirrels started getting more desperate and the suet feeders suddenly got attractive to them.

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