There are many ways to hang a suet feeder. But what is the best way? My approach to offering suet to birds in my yard evolved over several years. Through a lot of trial and error with feeder type and placement, I’ve learned a lot along the way. My current suet set-up has been working wonderfully for season after season. Now I don’t have to stress over it at all. It just works.
Several years ago, I tried a lot of locations and strategies for positioning suet feeders. I also tried out a DIY method for “Starling Proofing the Suet” .
Upside Down Feeders on a Pole
But two years ago a raccoon started getting into my suet feeders and causing a mess. This is when I made my final change. And that change made a big difference!
I invested in two dual-shepherd’s hook poles with barrel raccoon baffles to deter both squirrels and raccoons. And I added an extra little arm to one of the shepherd’s hooks. This gave me a total of five spots to hang the Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeders which I now use exclusively for suet. For the past two years, this is how my suet has been offered and it has worked beautifully.
Finding The Best Pole Location
One of these shepherd’s hook poles is located a few feet out from a large living room window in the front yard. This one has two suet feeders on it. It is close enough to the front window that bird strikes are minimized. It is also close enough to the front porch that Downy Woodpeckers fly first to the railing’s vertical wood bars to cling briefly before flying to the feeder.
Fortunately even with this relative closeness to the porch and the house, the squirrels have stayed off it completely. It is easy to watch birds on these feeders from the living room.
The other pole is located out in the back yard about twenty-five feet out from the back door. It is easily visible from the kitchen and dining room windows. This is the one with the extra little arm that holds three suet feeders.
Hanging Suet Away From Other Feeders
Both of these poles ONLY have suet feeders on them and the nearest seed feeders are at least twenty-five feet away. My experiments with placing suet feeders right with seed feeders or even just a little bit away, did not work well. I found placing them at least this distance apart to be important for a couple of related reasons.
First, if you offer suet right next to or on seed feeders, it can spook some of the birds you are trying to attract. Bolder social birds like Carolina Wrens or Blue Jays are usually fine eating suet when other birds are right there. But more solitary birds like Downy Woodpeckers and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers do not want to eat in the middle of noisy flocks of birds.
Second, even if you put only suet feeders on one pole but put that pole too close to other feeders, then you’ll get other birds using the top of the shepherd’s hooks as a place to pause before flying over to the seed feeders. And again, the birds on the suet feeders get disturbed. With woodpeckers, spacing is appreciated.
Because there are two or three suet feeders hanging on the same pole, you might wonder if several birds would be willing to eat at one time. I’ve never seen all three suet feeders in use at once, but there frequently are two in use at once.
Birds on My Suet Feeders
The birds that use our suet feeders most are the two types of woodpeckers and the wrens. But Tufted Titmouses, Carolina Chickadees and White-Breasted Nuthatches will grab a bite every now and then. And the occasional Pine Warbler will eat suet when they come through the yard.
In the spring, Blue Jays will dangle for a moment or two to get some suet for their young. In late winter, European Starlings do the same, but because the feeders are upside down, they tire of it pretty quickly.
Just this past week, three Eastern Bluebirds have been hanging around the yard and have similarly grabbed some suet briefly. Sometimes various birds will poke around on the ground under the feeders to snap up bits of suet that other birds have dropped.
Good quality poles and baffles are not cheap of course, but I have found that by offering suet in this more protected way, I don’t have to refill the suet feeders anywhere near as often as I used to. So this one-time expense is saving me money over time and the birds seem quite happy.
Have questions about offering suet? Check out my Solving Suet & Suet Feeder Problems post.
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