A red-bellied woodpecker accesses a suet feeder.
Suet feeders can be a great way to attract many back-yard birds in winter, when this high-calorie, easy-to-digest food provides them with much needed energy. Here are the key tips to follow when offering suet to your favorite garden birds:
- Look for suet made from rendered beef fat, which is generally less prone to turning rancid or growing bacteria than suet made of raw fat or substitutes like peanuts and corn.
- Suet cakes come in different shapes and sizes and may be studded with different kinds of seeds, fruits and nuts. Experiment to see what mixtures attract various birds in your yard.
- To protect suet from squirrels and starlings, offer it in cage-style suet feeders (shown). Styles that require the bird to hang upside down to eat are most discouraging of squirrels and larger birds. Nuthatches, woodpeckers, chickadees and other songbirds can access these with ease.
- Stop offering suet once the weather warms up. At that time, clean out the suet feeders and stuff them with nesting material instead.
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