Trying to Choose a Suet Feeder…

Jill Staake

Ever since fellow blogger Rob posted his 3 Tips for Feeding Suet This Winter, I’ve been kicking around the idea of adding a suet feeder to my yard. Suet can be difficult to offer in Florida, since the heat of summer makes even the no-melt suet cakes a little yucky. Several years ago, I bought one of those simple hanging cages that you put a suet cake in, but no birds ever visited it so I stopped trying after a few months. But after hearing the calls (and drumming) of both hairy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers in my neighborhood this week, I’ve decided that I want to give suet feeders another try – and I want to step up my game from that $2 cage feeder. The question is… which feeder to choose? The Duncraft website has a lot of options. Here are a few I’m considering (all images from Duncraft.com).

Eco-Strong Tail Prop Suet Feeder. Rob recommended a suet feeder with a tail prop for larger woodpeckers. Pileated woodpeckers do live in my area, and I’ve seen them in in nearby trees. It holds two suet cakes and is double-sided, so this one is a strong contender. (approx $40)

Log Jammer Hardwood Feeder. I love the natural look of this one. It’s made from real wood, with holes drilled into it for suet plugs. I like the idea of mimicking a natural feeding environment, but I wonder if I’d be able to find the suet plugs locally or if I’d have to keep ordering them online. The inconvenience of that might be a deal-breaker here. (approx $20)

Eco-Cardinal Suet Ball Feeder. This one is cute, and the price is low, which is nice if suet feeding doesn’t really work out. But again, I’m not sure I can find these suet balls locally, and there’s no tail prop for larger woodpeckers. (Approx $17)

Tree Mount Suet Ball Feeder. One thing I’ve noticed about my feeder birds is that they definitely tend to prefer feeders that are stable and don’t blow around too much in the wind. This feeder would be very stable since it mounts to a pole or tree – but it uses those suet balls again. (Approx $25)

Do you have any experience with any of these feeders? I’d love to  hear your opinions before I make a purchase, so hit the comments below and give me your opinions!

  1. says

    Jill I have saw the suet balls in a Wild Birds Unlimited store but its been a few years. They don’t have a store around here so don’t get to go to them much. Also have you considered making your own suet ? You could make your own suet balls if nothing else.

  2. Jen Y says

    I love making suet cupcakes. I mix up my recipe, fill cupcake lined muffin tins then freeze them. To serve, take them out of the paper & just set on a tray feeder. I have so many birds that come to my tray feeder. It’s mounted on my 2nd story deck & the woodpeckers hang on the side & reach over the top to eat from it.

  3. wanda says

    Why worry about the suet balls. If you are buying suit, buy the squares and trim it down into logs that would fit in any of your feeders. I make my own so I can make squares or balls or whatever shape I need.

  4. says

    find a piece of wood and drill holes in it ….as well as using the natural holes already in it…you can buy the suet squares and at room temperature and you put on some disposable gloves and form a ball or a plug for that matter…if you cannot find a piece of wood buy a two by four at the store ….they will cut it down for you….and then start with your drill….

    I have about 6 suets out in this time of the year….love the birds….the squirrels also like to come and feed on my suet ….I chase them away as much as I can…..HATE SQUIRRELS!!!

    • barbara eylers says

      don’t hate squirrels, they have to eat too. feed them in a different place, I feed birds in one tree and lay suet, and seeds and oiled sunflower seeds in 6 trays,(they need separate feeding dishes) in another area, usually they are so please with the sunflower seeds they leave the bird food alone. Put feeding dishes about 4 ft. apart, they like dinning alone. they are all of God’s aninmals.

  5. Margee says

    The suet recipe I use can only be used in cold temperatures or it will melt. So I have to buy it at the store when it’s not cold. Does anyone have a good suet recipe for year round?

    • Erin Bliss says

      Hi Margee,

      Have you tried adding peanut butter or corn meal to your suet? Less rendered fat (grease?) might make it less likely to melt. Haven’t tried it but it seemed potentially logical.

      Erin

  6. Bob Rott says

    I feed suet year round to the birds in our suburban St Louis yard. St Louis summers get just as hot as Florida. The main thing I like to do is store suet cakes in my freezer. My only reason for freezing is to make the suet cakes easy to handle with no mess. I get to handle the suet cakes with no mess on my hands. Once the suet cake is in the feeder the gooey mess has never been a bother for the birds. I have 5 suet cake feeders. The feeder that gets visited the most is a large hopper feeder for seeds that has suet cake stations on each end of the hopper. I get flickers, red bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and hairy woodpeckers. Many other song birds visit the suet cakes also. Maybe I shouldn’t but I purchase and offer to “our” birds the least expensive suet cakes I can get. The cheaper the better for me. If I were offering expensive suet cakes I would not be able to afford to keep the suet stations in our yard stocked for the birds. The birds have never seemed to mind that we offer cheap suet cakes.

  7. says

    We like the no melt suet dough cakes and they’re cheap enough that I haven’t come up with a recipe to make them myself. The birds love them year-round and I live in New Mexico and they never melt in our 100+ degree summer sun. I quit using the high suet fat cakes because they turn into a puddle of oil in warm weather. Suet balls are sold by a company called Wildlife Sciences and if you google them you’ll get lots of places that sell them.

  8. Russ says

    I just hang my wire suet holder on a shepherds hook. I buy the all weather suet blocks at Walmart or Lowes. They are
    not expensive. I think 97 cents each. They wont melt in the Texas heat. I have to put a new block of suet out everyday.

  9. Nanci says

    I have a small tail prop suet feeder I think came from Wild Wings. It’s not wood so it cant rot, and the squirrels cant chew it if they make it up there. It holds one cake and they can get at it from both sides. It’s easy to use, keep clean and the birds love it. I’ve seen Hairy, Downy, Pileated and Red- headed woodpeckers using this feeder. I’ve had it now for three years and I’d definitely recommend this type of suet feeder.

  10. Erin Bliss says

    I would skip the branch with the holes drilled in it. You live in Florida and I would imagine the heat would cause suet to go rancid if it’s not eaten quickly enough. Plus how do you clean out the holes?
    I have used the little cages for years and they’re fine hanging on the shepards crooks where I hang the regular feeders.
    I got a piece of old fence this year and attached a cage to it like the tail prop feeders so my bigger woodpeckers (we have at least one pileated woodpecker) would feel comfortable using it. I screwed a hook into a tree and hang it up high enough to attract birds to it. Works OK so far but I haven’t seen Woody yet!

  11. Elaine Mahoney says

    I have purchased the suet balls from Gardeners Supply in the past but they were out of stock the last time I needed them. I found them at Drs Foster and Smith by doing a Google search. The balls are more expensive than the square type but by using the round cage type of feeder the squirrels don’t get at them.

  12. Renee Drew says

    Looking at all your different suet feeders, I was just thinking you (or anyone) could just get some chunks of suet at a meat market or a local grocery store and then cut it into chunks to put in the feeders. It wouldn’t look quite as fancy as a ball, which the birds that would be nibbling on them probably couldn’t possibly care any less about. I live in SE Michigan, and our winters get pretty nasty, so suet is quite popular. Mostly we see downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. The toughest challenge we have with suet is raccoons destroying suet feeders they can reach, so using a shepherds’ hook is the easiest and lowest price option for us.

  13. says

    One of the problems not mentioned is squirrels. Living in Atlanta the squirrel population will send you to the “poor house” if you use a fixed location feeder on a tree or the like. I have been using the “wrong” feeder for years (the hanging, swinging) type and have plenty of woodpecker visitors from downy, to hairy, to the red bellies! It dangles from a steel rod and still I find a squirrel on it! They are really innovative at finding food…

  14. Sara Ann says

    Actually, suet is the pure white fat from around the kidneys of a cow. It will not go rancid in hot weather, but I would not put out huge chunks in the summer. However, most butchers will simply sell you beef trimmings from steaks, etc, and call it suet. That’s what goes rancid in warm weather. If you can find pure beef suet, you’re in luck!

  15. Lynne says

    I live in N. CA, where temps right now are swinging between 32 at night to 76 during the day. I’ve had problems with mine melting. I’m trying to lure the woodpeckers here to feeders, so I may only have 1 or 2 at a feeder. Peanut butter didn’t help. Does anyone have a recipe for warm climes that works? I’d appreciate the help.

  16. Carolyn Coulter says

    I also feed the squirrels (and unintentionally occasional night feeding raccoons) on trays set up on my deck railing. It keeps them away from the hanging feeders and they are fun to watch

  17. James M. Hinson says

    Jill,
    I’d love to hear your thoughts about attaching the “WalMart” style cages directly to a wooden backing i.e. a tree. I’ve had limited success just hanging them from a hook and you mention in your article that the birds prefer a more solid footing. Logic suggests mounting the cage on a vertical surface, but I’m wondering if mounting on a horizontal surface would help with the melting of the suet in the Louisiana heat.
    Oh yeah, I love your articles.

  18. Larry Craddock says

    I feed four varieties of woodpeckers along with chickadees and nuthatches. I have continued success with beef suet from the local grocery store. I built a feeder to accommodate the size of the beef suet. The feeder is made out of wood with a front corrugated/expanded metal front. The woodpeckers reach in through the openings to get what they want. It also happens to be raccoon proof.

  19. Pat says

    I have used generic suet feeders for years. The only drawback is that rain dissolves the suet.
    A friend gave me a suet feeder that has a little roof with the suet loaded underneath. That means the birds have to get around to discovering where it is. At least it doesn’t melt in the rain.

  20. Sol says

    My late wife and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the woodpeckers, cardinals and assorted others at the cage suet block hanging from a metal shepard’s crook. But after a few days, the squirrels would climb it and eat the block… The others illustrated would just make it easier for the squirrels…

  21. vms says

    I have a tail prop and an upside-down suet feeder, both of which are visited by downy, hairy, and red bellies. The tail prop is hanging from a tree at the edge of our woods and is a favorite of the pileated, who only came to the feeders near the house once that I know of. I also have a log jammer type but it’s not real wood and is, therefore, very easy to clean. That one gets filled with my own recipe (peanut butter, Crisco, yellow corn meal, nuts, seeds, etc.). It too is very popular. But I’d say the one that gets the most use is the upside-down one. Even the chickadees and nuthatches enjoy hanging suspended from it!

  22. Larry Ferguson says

    If anything is attached to live trees by using screws, the screws need to be unscrewed 1 1/2 turns each year to prevent the tree from growing over the screw, thereby ruining your feeder or bird house.

  23. says

    I have two suet feeders on my back porch. One is the wire cage type. I put a fruit and nut suet in it. It gets some activity from a downy woodpecker and a Carolina Wren. The other suet feeder is the log type. I put insect suet in that one. It is very popular with the downy woodpecker, and also visited by a Carolina Wren, bluejays, black-capped chickadees, and tufted titmouse.

  24. Mary says

    I have one of these as well. It came from Wild Bird feed store. The birds LOVE it because of the tail prop. We have had the male Pileated come last year. This year, both the female and the male have come to the feeder. Sometimes at the same time! It is a thrill to see them together!

  25. Tonya says

    My husband made me one out of a 4x 4..I hang it on a shepherds hook… I buy the suet for it at Rural King and Tractor.Supply. I also just use cheap peanut butter mixed with birdseed and fill the wholes…all kinds birds eat from it including some wrens

  26. Paul R Mark says

    Our Royal Rsnger boys have made the suet feeder with the tail out of cedar and wire mesh. A hand saw, drill, tin snips and a hammer will work to make one. Predrill the holes and use screws to assemble it. Plans are available from various sources, check your local library. We used the cheap cakes also from local lumber yard.

  27. June says

    I must have nasty squirrels …they do not leave the feeders until they are almost empty!! They also “charge” after the birds and chase them away….I consider them rats and would like to see them kept under control somehow.

    Suet plugs and balls can be found at Walmart….and the dollar store has very inexpensive suet. it you take a picture of the price of the suet on the shelf and show it to Pet food Stores like Rens for instance (and other stores also) …they will match the price !!
    I love feeding my birds and they actually come and look into my patio door…I have so many Juncos I can’t count them…and with the white snow and the cardinals the show is so so beautiful…so many birds here I am in a great location and it is actually similar to a bird sanctuary. I’m lucky.

  28. says

    HOW DO YOU MAKE THEM. I’M JUST GETTING STARTED. TO BUY THE SQUARE ONES THEY ARE $1.75 EACH. A LITTLE EXPENSIVE. IF I COULD MAKE THEM THEY WOULD BE HAPPIER. THANKS.

  29. says

    Why don’t you try making your own recipes for suet plugs/balls and use those in which ever suet feeder that you decide to purchase? An alternate suggestion would be to cut your own plugs from commercially available blocks of suet.

  30. 4 Da Birds says

    I like to attract the local chickadees and nuthatches here is S. Oregon. I bought a wire screen type suet feeder..but it was far too wide for one suet pack..so stuffed newspaper behind it. Every bird in the county was getting the suet. I wasn’t interested in feeding sparrows, starlings and scrub jays.

    Then I put my mind to work to create a very simple upside down one for chickadees and nuthatches. I opened a little mesh bag..from onions, bulb, etc..slipped the suet inside..tied the ends of the bag together toward the back of the plastic suet container.Then tied a short cord on that and attached it to a limb. It swings some. The sparrows and jays have a hard time, but the downy woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches find it just their style.

  31. Richard Horn says

    I built my own tail prop from salvaged wood that’s slightly thicker than the suet cake. covered both sides with 1/2″ wire mesh that covers the cake and about 4″ below. Woodpeckers love it, as do Carolina wrens, titmice,and nuthatches. Forgot where I saw the plans, but could send you a drawing if you’re interested. Or can E-mail you a photo. Use no-melt suet year-round.

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