Where to Hang a Suet Feeder?

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

Location, Location, Location. This is as true for bird feeders as it is to restaurants we humans visit. You can have a great, well-designed feeder with fresh appealing food and get no or very few birds if the location is wrong. And squirrels will eat your suet if you don’t consider them when you pick a spot for your feeder.

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!

Finding the Best Way to Hang Suet

When I get a new feeder, I sometimes try several spots until I find where it works best. This post looks in depth at what suet strategies worked in my yard, what didn’t work and what partially worked.

I put them in a lot of wrong spots before I found what I think is the right spot. If you want to skip ahead to reading about my current suet feeder location, check out my Best Way to Hang a Suet Feeder post.

Avoid Bird Window Collisions

To minimize birds hitting your windows (which can kill birds) place feeders either within three feet of a window or more than thirty feet away. The idea is that a startled bird can’t get up enough speed to hurt themselves badly from three feet away. And windows are less likely to be seen as a fly-through at distances of thirty feet away.

Suet Feeders in Bush Close to Windows
Suet Feeders in Bush Close to Windows

Worked: Low Bushes Near Window

Next to bedroom windows at the front of our house are two leggy bushes. I hung two suet blocks from these bush branches about three feet from the window. There is a homemade birdbath in this area and a Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder hanging from a tree about thirty feet away. This makes it a popular spot with birds in the yard.

Pros: Suet here appealed to Downy Woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens and Tufted Titmouses all year round and the occasional Red-Bellied Woodpecker. In the spring, other birds, especially Blue Jays, brought their fledglings to these feeders, which was very cool to watch.

The Downy Woodpecker Outside the Window Doesn't Seem Bothered By the Indoor Cats
The Downy Woodpecker Outside the Window Doesn’t Seem Bothered By Indoor Cats

There is a window seat on the inside of this window where our four indoor cats like to sleep and bird watch. The birds seemed to realize that they were no danger behind the glass and ignored the cats.

Cons: The downside to this location is that they were easy for squirrels to access so they would be occasional pests on them.

One third of a Block (Slightly Nibbled) of Suet in a Suet Cage Feeder
One third of a Block (Slightly Nibbled) of Suet in a Suet Cage Feeder

Worked: Large Bush Near Window

I hung another suet feeder near a window at the far front end of the house hidden behind a large evergreen bush. This feeder dangled by a very long chain from a thin flexible branch.

Pros: This one was popular with the same birds, as well as Northern Cardinals and House Sparrows, who seemed to prefer this more protected location. Here too, one of our cats could sit on the other side of the window, bird watching.

This feeder, dangling on such a long chain, required the squirrels to be more acrobatic, but they could still get into it if hungry enough to mess with it. I moved it around on the bush to find the branch and chain length that made it the hardest for a squirrel so they didn’t get on it a lot.

Looking Up at the Bottom of the Suet Feeder
Suet Feeder Hung on a Post Next to the Back Door

Partly Worked: Near Back Door

I hung yet another suet feeder on a post off our back steps, a few feet to the side of the kitchen window.

Pros: This feeder got visited mostly by Downy Woodpeckers and Carolina Wrens and the occasional squirrel.

Cons: It was the least used of the suet feeders, probably partially because it was located by a busy doorway and partially because of its hidden suet access . . .

Watching Downy Eating Suet From Kitchen Window
Watching Downy Eating Suet From Kitchen Window

. . .  but it was nice to look out the window while cooking dinner and see a Downy Woodpecker on the feeder. (Note: See my Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeder post to learn how I helped birds find the suet in these feeders.)

White-Breasted Nuthatch Eating Suet
White-Breasted Nuthatch Eating Suet From a Feeder Hanging on a Tree Trunk

Partly Worked: Against Tree Trunk

Pros: If you ask Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers and White-Breasted Nuthatches for their favorite suet feeder spot, they would probably tell you right up next to a tree trunk. Birds land higher on the trunk and then sidle and hop down to feeder level. They loved it.

Squirrel Eating a Nut Block Against Tree Trunk
Squirrel Eating a Nut Block Against Tree Trunk

Cons: Unfortunately, squirrels loved it too. They were on it so much that birds rarely had a chance, especially in cold weather. So this location had to go.

Suet Feeder Hung at an Inside Corner of the House
Suet Feeder Hung at an Inside Corner of the House

Didn’t Work: Inside Corner

Cons: Hanging a suet feeder from the house right next to the dining room window was a complete bust. Sure, it would have let me see birds very well. But this window is in an inside corner. I suspect this made birds feel trapped and less able to get away from a predator. Not a single bird visited either a regular cage suet feeder or this house-like feeder hung here.

Suet Feeder Hanging From Pole
Suet Feeder Hanging From Pole Had Too Much Distraction Next to It

Mostly Didn’t Work: Same Pole with Busy Feeder

Another spot that didn’t work well was on the arm of the pole where a platform feeder also hangs. (Note: In the picture, two cage feeders are wired together with suet in one and a nut block in the other.)

Pros: In this location, the feeder would sometimes get a Carolina Wren and very occasionally a Downy Woodpecker when other suet feeders were full. This spot was squirrel proof.

Cons: Suet-eating birds were quickly spooked by bird activity on the platform feeder. (The platform feeder was often full of busy active birds like American Goldfinches, House Finches and Blue Jays.)

Dangling Plastic Protected Suet Cage Feeder
Suet Feeder Hanging on Branch Near a Busy Bird Feeder

Didn’t Work: Branch Next to Busy Feeder

Cons: Yet another unsuccessful spot was hanging on a branch a few feet from a Squirrel Buster Plus feeder. Same problem. Too much activity on the other feeder made it an unappealing place for quieter suet eating birds to dine. The squirrels could also easily climb down the chain to get the suet.

Suet and Nut Block Feeders Hanging From Tree Branch
Suet and Nut Block Feeders Hanging From Tree Branch

Worked: Branch Protected by Baffles

I hung three feeders on high tree branches, two of them protected by Erva extra-large baffles.

Pros: This spot was near enough to my dining room window that I could see them. But it was still far enough from the house that the danger of window strikes was lessened. It was also just enough removed from other feeders that they were not spooked by busier bird activity.

These three feeders were popular with Downy Woodpeckers, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice and occasionally a Pine Warbler.

Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker Eating Suet From Dangling Cage
Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker Eating Suet From Dangling Cage

Cons: You need to work hard on feeder and baffle placement to keep squirrels off suet hung on branches. I played around with placement for quite a while, searching for just the right spots on a large tree’s branches. A larger suet or nut block plus a metal baffle can get heavy; add the weight of a bird and it can break a lighter branch. So the branch had to be fairly heavy and sturdy.

Deterring Squirrels on Branch Hung Suet Feeders

I told you about how I starling-proofed suet feeders in another post. I worked to reduce squirrel activity on them as well. Anyone who has tried to thwart squirrels knows this is a tricky process because squirrels are clever and tenacious.

I hung two of suet feeders (a suet block and a large nut block) under flat metal baffles hung from a branch using long shepherd’s hooks and chains. (Note: I’ve purchased hooks and chains in a variety of shapes and configurations at various times. As I move feeders around, I swap hooks around. So here, I used a combination of hooks and chains I originally purchased for hanging these and other feeders.)

The Squirrel Can't Get the Suet From the Top
The Squirrel Can’t Get the Suet From the Top

How A Baffle Keeps Squirrels Off Suet

Before I added the baffles, squirrels nimbly climbed down the hook and/or chain attaching the suet cage to the limb. Then they would hang from the under side of the feeder cage to get at the open bottom side; they were basically cradling the feeder cage on their stomach as they dangled.

A metal baffle prevents access from above. If they do climb down, they can’t get around the baffle. When a squirrel lands on it, it tips just a bit so the squirrel can’t use it as a secure perch to hang from the edge. It is too close for the squirrel to leap around the baffle edge onto the feeder. They usually wind up either falling off or climbing back up to the tree limb.

If they want to get to the feeder, they have to instead leap out sideways from the tree’s trunk which is a trickier prospect. Not impossible, but harder.

Increasing Distance From the Trunk

At first I could only easily place these three or four feet out from the trunk. Squirrels can jump up to eight to ten feet horizontally. So I knew they would still be accessible to a squirrel willing to leap, but not as easily so.

Watching it for two days, I only saw a squirrel succeed in getting to the nut block feeder twice for short periods, but I wanted to make this feeder even harder to access. So I enlisted Jim’s help to move the nut block feeder another couple of feet out and up on the same tree limb. Squirrels then needed to leap six and a half feet from the tree trunk to reach the dangling feeder.

Baffled Suet Feeders
Suet Feeders Dangling Too Far Below Their Baffles

Positioning the Baffle Correctly

On my first try at this (above), I hung a shepherd’s hook from a tree limb. Then I attached the baffle, then added another long hook and/or chain and then finally the feeder. This created a wide space above the baffle and another between the baffle and the feeder dangling below.

I soon realized that this put the feeders too far below the baffles. If the baffle is instead very close, the squirrels have to nail the landing so that they land on the suet feeder and not on top of the baffle just above it.

So I rearranged things, using the long shepherd’s hooks then chains, then the baffle and then finally the feeder. This left a very wide space from branch to baffle but only a couple inches from baffle to feeder. This helped, making it very challenging for them to jump horizontally onto the feeders. They could do it, but it took many attempts. (I watched one squirrel make repeated tries at it for the better part of an hour and finally give up.)

Works Best: Suet Feeders on Separate Baffled Pole

See? I’m as tenacious as any squirrel! I know that it may sound like a lot of trouble. But I look at it as a challenge and a puzzle to be solved. The reward was watching a variety of birds visit the feeders instead of watching the food go into a squirrel’s belly.

2019 Update: I have updated this post. My suet feeder strategy has evolved since I wrote it three years ago. It is working excellently! To learn about my current suet feeders location, check out my Best Way to Hang A Suet Feeder post.

What has worked for you in offering suet to birds in your yard? Do you use this type of commercial suet and/or nut block or do you make your own and offer it differently? Please share in the comments.

Nancie

Other Posts About Suet Feeders

Best Way to Hang a Suet Feeder

Solving Suet & Suet Feeder Problems

Acrobatic Grackles At My Suet Feeders

Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeder Review

Starling Proofing the Suet

Deterring Squirrels with Hot Pepper Suet

Bird Feeder Baffles in the Wind & Suet

A Raccoon is Eating My Suet!

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26 thoughts on “Where to Hang a Suet Feeder?

  1. Wow! Awesome post!! I just found your bird blog & love it!! Thank you so much for all the awesome advice on suet feeders! Can’t wait for your next post!

  2. Hi Nancie,

    Do you continue feeding the birds suet in the summer, or do you only do it when the weather’s cool?

    1. Hi Becky, I offer suet year round. Ironically, I find it even more popular in the spring than during the colder months because as well as the woodpeckers, many other birds like suet especially when raising new families. Spring is usually the most active period at the suet feeders followed by winter and then fall. Summer is slower but the woodpeckers still very much enjoy it.

      It is important that suet not be allowed to go bad as it can in hot humid months. I use no-melt suet which helps but I also keep an eye on the suet to make sure it doesn’t get moldy, especially after periods of rain and then heat. I have a lot of suet feeders and if I find it isn’t all getting eaten before it starts to turn, I’ll reduce the amount of suet I offer. Even if you have just one feeder, you can always cut a suet cake in half and offer just part at a time if you find that it isn’t getting eaten quickly enough.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

      1. Thanks so much, Nancie! I’m brand new to this and put out my first suet feeder last evening (here in Southern California – I’m in Burbank, just outside of Los Angeles). Haven’t had a single bird go near it so far, so I’m thinking of moving it closer to a tree. Right now it’s on a shepherd’s hook near our garage and I’m thinking the location is less than ideal.

        I have a ton of house finches and sparrows congregating around a platform and nyjer feeder, but I was hoping to entice a wider variety of birds with the suet. I know it can take time for birds to discover the new food source, and I did get the “no melt” variety – I guess I’m just paranoid that the suet will spoil more quickly in the heat (even in the shade) and go to waste before they realize I’ve put it out for them. Am I overthinking this?

        1. I don’t think you are overthinking it. You should be fine moving the suet feeder if you think it’s not in a spot that will entice birds. In my experience, it can take a while for birds to discover a new feeder but once you get one bird, you’ll often soon get a second and then more. They seem to communicate the food availability to other birds somehow. Also, birds watch other birds and if they see another bird getting something good to eat, they are likely to check it out themselves. How quickly you start getting visitors to that feeder will probably depend on what types of birds are already around your neighborhood area, but don’t be surprised if you need to wait a week or more. A lot of birds seem to have routines and it can take a little while for a bird that doesn’t already visit your yard to wander by and see that there is something new for them. I know myself how hard it is to be patient when you are waiting for birds to discover a feeder!

          I live in the Mid-Atlantic on the east coast so the specific list of species may vary a bit, but the birds that like suet in my yard include: Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, White-Breasted Nuthatch (sometimes although I think they like nut blocks better), Blue Jays, Gray Catbird, Common Grackle and European Starling. The Fish Crows love it too but they are too big for the feeders I use. So your first suet visitors may or may not be woodpeckers.

          My area is notoriously hot and humid in the summer. That combination can encourage things to grow on suet after awhile. I suspect that it may not be as big a problem where it is instead hot and dry in the summer. I don’t usually have problems with it unless we have a lot of hot days with a lot of rain too. This time of year the birds are eating it fast enough that it isn’t a problem even though it have rained a lot lately. You just have to keep an eye on it and you’ll get a feel for how much to put out.

          Good luck!

  3. I see you leave the plastic tray on tbe suet blocks? Does that bother the birds?

    It also looks like most of the feeders are “wedged” between branches as opposed to swinging. Does that help encourage more feeding as they have someplace to “light” on and the wind won’t swing them around?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Leslee, Leaving the plastic tray on suet blocks is kind of a DIY no-extra-cost way to create an upside down type of suet feeder. By hanging them horizontally and leaving the tray on top, the birds must hang from beneath it to eat suet. This is easy for woodpeckers and nuthatches but more challenging for other birds like European Starlings. The starlings have a tendency to get on a regular suet feeder and eat for hours until it is gone. With this, they can still make suet grabs and/or hang on for a little while, but it keeps them from hogging it. The plastic can also keep the suet drier.

      I never actually had any feeders wedged between branches but did have a few right up against the trunk of a tree. The woodpeckers and nuthatches really like this quite a lot, but unfortunately so do squirrels.

      More recently, I had a problem with something, possibly a raccoon but I never saw it, opening up my cage suet feeders and putting the suet into the birdbaths where it would dissolve into a big mess (probably in an attempt to wash off the hot pepper flavor.) I resolved it by switching over completely to commercial upside-down suet feeders hung on two tall poles. (If you look at the end of this post, you’ll see links to other posts describing those feeders and my switch to putting them on the poles.)

  4. Cave Creek, AZ. WE STARTED FEEDING SUET in two double and two single cages placed in 12inch clay saucers on top of our stucco painted block wall easily seen from the kitchen window. They regularly come and feed, but their droppings make the wall filthy and forced us to scrape and prime and repaint the wall. Thought the clay plant saucers would prevent it??? No cactus or trees close enough to use. Any suggestions? Thanx

    iin

  5. Thanks for all the knowledge re: hanging suet cages…I am a newbie to suet feeding tech! So when I found your blog…great trial and error advice. Thanks again.

  6. Thinking of hanging suet in our hedges before they begin to leaf out. I think the branches are too thin and thick for squirrels.

    1. Hi Brad. My approach is to try it and watch to see what happens and be willing to adjust things as needed. Squirrels are amazing acrobats and can leap, grab and dangle. I’ve seen them shimmy down thin metal feeder hooks and nimbly skitter over thin chains. I’ve had my best luck with keeping them off of suet by using upside down suet feeders on baffled poles. But every tree and bush is different so you might find that the branches in your hedge are just right. I’d say definitely give it a try and see what happens. Nancie

  7. Thanks for the info , very helpful , where can I purchase a metal baffle ? No matter what I do the squirrels get into everything

    1. Hi Jean,

      The ones I use are made by Erva. They sell them in my local bird store but you can also find some of Erva’s baffles on Amazon. This one is a baffle to use on a pole: https://amzn.to/2LAA0uV . Here is a more general page of Erva products on Amazon where you can also find the disk type that can be used for hanging feeders:https://amzn.to/2NDx2mP . Nancie

  8. I tried my suet feeders on the underside of the house over hangs with no luck yet…I am hoping the lack of snow and warmer temperatures in central NY have given the birds more than normal food sources but once the snow comes and stays, I am hoping more traffic will ensue….are overhangs good for the suet or are they too close to the house…I also have a multiple bird feeder with seed in middle and suet on side…squirrels were trying to get on it but I coated pole with tack cement to deter this and also ordered some Tanglefoot to even further scare away the persistent rodents…I am thinking of moving suets to a evergreen type tree and using tanglefoot to keep squirrels of but I won’t be able to see birds as well as off the edge of the house..do you think the lack of snow is keeping birds away from feeders or are they just in bad spots….other regular seed feeder is hanging off fence post near some pine trees…it is supposed to attract cardinals and blue jays but nothing yet…thanks

    1. Hi Brian, I think in general, suet feeders ought to work under a house overhang. I’ve successfully placed them under the edge of my back porch overhang and have hung them on the backside of a cypress bush that is just a few feet from the house and birds have used them. It can take a while for birds to find feeders especially feeders that are new to a yard. You need one bird to figure it out and then announce it to her friends. So that might be part of it. But you may be right about the warmer temperatures. I’ve noticed that I haven’t needed to re-fill my suet feeders here in Maryland quite as often so far this winter and we haven’t really had any serious snow or extended cold yet. Actually in my yard, the most popular time for suet is in the spring when the birds are feeding their young. Winter is the second favorite time typically.

      I’m not familiar with tack cement or Tanglefoot so I can’t really comment on how they will work on deterring squirrels. You do want to be really careful about sticky substances around bird feeders though. If a bird gets it into their wings it can make it difficult for them to fly. I’d be really cautious about that.

      I have honestly had my best luck with dealing with squirrels by hanging the suet feeders from shepherd’s hook type poles that have the pole baffled by the kind of squirrel or raccoon baffle that goes on the pole underneath the feeders. As long as the poles are placed far enough from anything the squirrels can jump from and the baffles are properly positioned on the pole, it keeps the squirrels out. In my mind it is worth paying for the pole and baffle once and then never having to do anything else to keep the squirrels out of the food. (I’ve done other posts here about putting feeders on poles that you might find interesting.)

      A couple other thoughts: Suet attracts a variety of birds. Quite a few of them like to nest and/or shelter in the holes of trees. My yard is really popular with woodpeckers not only for the suet but also for the dead branches and tree stumps that give them shelter (and bugs.) It sounds like your yard has trees so that would help with attracting birds of all kinds. Water is also a really big attraction for birds. A birdbath (with a heater in the winter) can bring birds that might otherwise not come to feeders too.

      I’ve found that woodpeckers tend to be more solitary (mostly) in their feeding. They will eat around other birds but get spooked by a nearby crowd. When I put suet feeders right next to seed feeders, the woodpeckers will try it but will often move off as soon as other birds come to get the seed. They are happier if the suet feeder is a little ways off so they can settle in and eat in peace. Some other other birds that eat suet don’t care as much. The Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmouses and Blue Jays are more okay with eating next to other birds . . . well, the Blue Jays tend to temporarily move the other birds off when they arrive but they don’t usually stay all that long.

      Hope this is helpful.
      Nancie

      1. thanks Nancie, all you told me is helpful….I have only even seen a woodpecker around my house…it had a big red head and looked to be about a foot tall….if these came to the yard , that would be a real treat to see and photograph….I am just happy to see more birds than the little sparrows that seem to enjoy the tube feeder…I am looking to see cardinals and blue jays(even though they are mean to the little birds but pretty)…that is why I got the suet and other seed to attract a variety in the yard…I know the colorful ones are around but they never liked the food in the tube and prefer bigger seed…thanks again

        1. Hi Brian, Sure thing. Your woodpecker sounds fun. From the big red head, I’m thinking maybe a Red-headed Woodpecker or a Pileated Woodpecker?

          In my yard, the Cardinals love safflower seed in platform or hopper style feeders. They don’t like the tube feeders as much. The Blue Jays LOVE peanuts.

          Nancie

  9. The squirrels are arcrobats indeed. What works best to hang bird feeders and the suet feeders and is cheapest is regular twine, the kind you use to fly a kite.

    Its not sturdy enough for them to cling on to and drap down to the feeder. Hang like u said over a tall tree if you have one… Mine hand about 15 feet down from a large tree… You can get creative, on feeders with a hook, simply tie a knot and toss, on the suet, do a criss cross X and toss,

    Toss- attach one end of the string and tape it to a baseball or softball, toss it over the branch of your choice. And dont get discouraged, its fun, itll take a few times unless uve pitched for the yankess, and once u make it over once… Pull that strng down, up ur feeder goes, and toss again, the second string is support and balance.

    If u go too high, just wrap, and kindly ask the tree if they mind. Amen.

    1. Hi Jay,
      Thanks for sharing this. I’ve never tried twine for hanging feeders. Interesting! I’ll have to give it a try.
      Nancie

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