Which is the Best Suet Feeder? A Review and Guide

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Suet is a popular and nutritious food for birds that can be especially appealing as they try to survive the colder months in northern areas.

Suet is a type of hard fat, usually from around the loins or kidneys of sheep and cattle. While sometimes used for cooking by humans, it’s perhaps more popular amongst birdwatchers as an alternative to seed.

Suet is an ideal bird food for cold weather when formed into dense cakes. A standard suet cake is high in protein and nutrients that can help birds brave the harsh northern winters, and many birds will regularly visit a suet feeder.

It’s often mixed with dry bird foods like nuts, seeds, or insects and can be purchased inexpensively in small, square suet cakes.

Product Name
Basic Cage Suet Feeder
Birds Choice Recycled Suet Feeder
Top Upside-Down Feeder
Cedar Suet Upside-Down Bird Feeder
Squirrel Resistant
More Birds Squirrel-X Double Suet Feeder
Image
Birds Choice SNTP Recycled Single Cake Tail Prop Suet Feeder, 1 Suet Cake, 8"L X 3"W Xv12"H, Taupe Base w/ Green Roof
Nature's Way Bird Products CWF2 Cedar Suet Upside-Down Bird Feeder
More Birds Squirrel-X Double Suet Feeder, Outdoor Wild Bird Feeder, Cage Bird Feeder, 2 Suet Cake Capacity
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Plastic
Made From Cedar Wood
Made From Metal
Item Weight
Weight: 1 Pound
Weight: 14.4 Ounces
Weight: 2 Pound
Size
8 x 3 x 12 inches
8.5 x 8.5 x 4.13 inches
10 x 10 x 9.4 inches
Basic Cage Suet Feeder
Product Name
Birds Choice Recycled Suet Feeder
Image
Birds Choice SNTP Recycled Single Cake Tail Prop Suet Feeder, 1 Suet Cake, 8"L X 3"W Xv12"H, Taupe Base w/ Green Roof
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Plastic
Item Weight
Weight: 1 Pound
Size
8 x 3 x 12 inches
Top Upside-Down Feeder
Product Name
Cedar Suet Upside-Down Bird Feeder
Image
Nature's Way Bird Products CWF2 Cedar Suet Upside-Down Bird Feeder
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Cedar Wood
Item Weight
Weight: 14.4 Ounces
Size
8.5 x 8.5 x 4.13 inches
Squirrel Resistant
Product Name
More Birds Squirrel-X Double Suet Feeder
Image
More Birds Squirrel-X Double Suet Feeder, Outdoor Wild Bird Feeder, Cage Bird Feeder, 2 Suet Cake Capacity
Customer Rating
Material
Made From Metal
Item Weight
Weight: 2 Pound
Size
10 x 10 x 9.4 inches

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What kinds of birds eat suet?

Woodpeckers are commonly associated with suet feeders, from small downy woodpeckers to flickers and pileated woodpeckers. Nearly every common woodpecker that frequents your yard will likely enjoy suet.

Chickadees and nuthatches are familiar suet feeder visitors, and even wrens, jays, cardinals, and robins will sometimes be seen feeding on suet.

When to put out suet

As it is fat, suet can get gross pretty quickly in the summer heat if not prepared correctly, and even the best quality suet may not keep well in warmer temperatures.

While watching the birds all year round is fun, birds likely have enough food to make it through the summer without suet. If you’re in a warm, humid area and put suet out, watch it closely to ensure it’s not getting melty and gross on hot days, as this can cause problems for birds.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, soft, melting suet can be dangerous. It can coat belly feathers, leading to clogged pores on eggs when birds are incubating and a lack of oxygen for the developing embryo.

Some companies advertise no-melt suet that can handle temperatures into the 90s, so that’s worth a try if you want to put out suet before the temperatures dip. Still, it can save you time, money, and a mess by waiting a few months until the weather starts to turn before you place suet for the birds, and it can also be healthier. 

Many species of birds will stay all year, woodpeckers, jays, and chickadees included, so rest assured that you’ll get plenty of winter visitation even if many birds have headed south for the season.

Should you make suet or buy it from a store?

While you can make homemade bird suet by melting fat, mixing it with seeds and bits of fruit, and refrigerating it until it’s hard and compact, it’s likely easier for most backyard bird enthusiasts to purchase suet cakes from a local store.

Suet can often be purchased for between $1.50 and $2 per cake in packages of 10 or more. So, while a backyard full of woodpeckers can tear through a suet cake relatively quickly, each $2 cake should get you at least a couple of days to enjoy the birds.

If you buy suet in bulk, keep your suet cakes cold until you’re ready to use them to prevent melting or piquing the interest of insects like fruit flies or ants.

What is the best suet?

Many reputable companies sell no-melt suet cakes. St. Alban’s Bay is a solid company that sells its suet cakes in 100-percent recyclable packaging.

The company makes quite a few flavors and types of suet bird food, from nuts and seed mixes to apple, orange, blueberry, and cherry fruit mixes.

The National Audubon Society also markets suet cakes. Many people trust this national non-profit organization for all their bird questions and concerns, so you can feel confident that your feathered friends are not getting any ingredients they shouldn’t.

Before purchasing suet (or any bird seed), do a little bit of research about what’s in it, and you should be able to eliminate any potential concerns.

Ultimately, if there are no harmful ingredients and the suet stays solid all year round, the birds likely won’t be too picky.

Some companies, such as St. Alban’s Bay or C&S, make suet mixed with hot peppers. This is supposed to deter pesky squirrels and other rodents, as birds aren’t affected by spice like mammals because they have almost no tastebuds.

According to University of Wisconsin-Madison Forest and Wildlife Ecology Professor Anna Pidgeon, birds have very few taste buds. She says that pigeons have just 37 taste buds, chickens have 24, and humans have up to 10,000.

Best Suet Feeders

the type of suet feeder you should use depends on what types of birds you want to feed and your budget.

Suet cage feeders, which hold standard suet blocks, often cost $5 or less. These hangers use a hook and a wire cage to hold the suet. They get the job done and allow all birds to access the treat. Here’s one such example.

You’ll need a stable branch or pole to hang the feeder and keep it steady. A pole and hook are more sturdy than a branch, so the combination will add a little bit of extra spending to your setup, but keeping the feeder upright and hanging will be worth it.

If you’re setting out suet in warmer conditions, a little more money can get you a basic cage suet feeder with a small roof, like this one from C&S . It’s not too large, but even a small roof can keep your suet out of the sunlight and keep you from cleaning up melty, rotten suet cakes all summer.

An extended tail prop is one aspect of a suet feeder that can be potentially important if you want to spend a little extra money.

Many woodpeckers use their tails for balance, almost like a camera tripod. Inexpensive cage feeders don’t have anything for woodpeckers to rest their tails on and prop themselves up, so you can either buy a feeder that provides that support or rig something up yourself.

While it probably won’t make a difference for tiny bird species like downy woodpeckers, a tail prop is essential for larger woodpeckers like the Pileated woodpecker. The largest woodpecker in North America is almost the size of a crow, so a flimsy feeder likely won’t be able to support them.

Even flickers or Red-bellied and Red-headed woodpeckers, common backyard sightings, appreciate a tail prop when visiting a suet feeder.

To do it yourself, you can mount a cage feeder on the side of a wood plank. If you’re not too handy, don’t worry, suet feeders with tail props usually won’t break your bird feeding budget.

Nature’s Way Suet Bird Feeder

Nature's Way CWF31 Cedar - Double Suet Tail Prop Bird Feeder
  • Tail-prop spacing ideal for attracting large woodpeckers like the Pileated to your backyard; Attracts all woodpeckers, titmice,...
  • Durable Easy-Cling mesh provides optimal gripping surface for birds to cling while feeding
  • Premium insect and rot resistant cedar with water-based preservative is safe for birds and helps prevent discoloration, mold &...

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a fairly basic suet feeder design with a tail prop. Suet cakes are inserted through the top, allowing your favorite birds to access them from both sides of the feeder.

You’ll probably want to find a standalone hook to put this feeder on, but the feeder itself isn’t too expensive and does the trick of supporting larger woodpeckers’ tails.

Birds Choice Recycled Suet Feeder

Sale
Birds Choice SNTP Recycled Single Cake Tail Prop Suet Feeder, 1 Suet Cake, 8"L X 3"W Xv12"H, Taupe Base w/ Green Roof
  • PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS: Includes 1 Cake Tail Prop Suet Feeder | Material: Recycled Poly-Lumber | Color: Taupe w/ Green Roof |...
  • SINGLE CAKE PILEATED SUET FEEDER: This feeder dispenses a high-energy suet food cake made from rendered animal fat and has a...
  • RECYCLED MATERIALS: Poly lumber proudly made from recycled plastic jugs and bottles in the United States and is designed to...

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Made from recycled poly lumber materials, this feeder is of a very similar design to the Nature’s Way feeder listed above and within an inch of the same size.

The poly wood looks sharp and may be slightly easier to clean, but it is a bit more expensive.

How to keep starlings away

European starlings, particularly unpopular and aggressive birds, are also suet fans. If you don’t like to feed the starlings, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology recommends buying a feeder that requires birds to hang upside down. Birds like woodpeckers and chickadees won’t be affected, but starlings will.

The Nature’s Way Upside-Down Feeder is one such option to give you an idea of how this feeder looks. It may look awkward for birds, but you’ll find that the type of bird you want to feed really won’t mind a little bit of hanging acrobatics.

Nature's Way Bird Products CWF2 Cedar Suet Upside-Down Bird Feeder
  • Upside-down design naturally eliminates nuisance birds like blackbirds and grackles that are not comfortable hanging upside-down...
  • Made from premium cedar
  • Preservative helps prevent discoloration and water damage

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This feeder is made from cedar and has a little bit of a roof. In addition to keeping the suet out of the sun by putting it on the bottom, a suet feeder with a roof can help keep it cool and melt-free.

The Birds Choice Recycled Upside Down Feeder is another option for a couple of dollars more. It’s made from recycled poly lumber if you prefer that to the cedar of the Nature’s Way model. Like that one, this model has a roof with a classic green birdhouse look.

Sale
Birds Choice SNUD Recycled Cake Upside Down Suet Feeder, Seed Block Feeder, 1 Suet Cake, 7"L X 6-1/4"W X 4-1/4"H , Taupe w/ Green Roof
  • PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS: Includes 1 Cake Suet Feeder | Material: Recycled Poly-Lumber | Color: Taupe w/ Green Roof | Measurement &...
  • UPSIDE DOWN SUET FEEDER: This type of feeder dispenses a high-energy suet food cake made from rendered animal fat. Holds up to [1]...
  • RECYCLED MATERIALS: Poly lumber proudly made from recycled plastic jugs and bottles in the United States and is designed to...

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How to keep squirrels out

It’s a question as old as bird feeding itself: how do I keep the squirrels from eating up all my bird food before the birds get to it?

Many times, the solution is a squirrel baffle. These are usually cone-shaped metal sheets secured around the bird feeder pole. Squirrels often have trouble getting around the large cones when climbing the feeders.

The Woodlink Audubon Squirrel Baffle is one example. They’re pretty easy to set up, but squirrels sometimes find ways around them by climbing other surfaces like trees or feeders, then jumping to your feeders. Placing your feeder in an open space, fairly spread out from other objects, could be an easy fix.

While some people suggest putting lubricant like petroleum jelly or kitchen oils on feeder poles to deter squirrels, this is not advised. Lubricants like these aren’t suitable for squirrels or birds. According to the Eugene, Oregon Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop, they can make birds sticky and cause stomach problems and other ailments for squirrels.

More advanced solutions to the squirrel question include changes to the feeders themselves. You can buy suet cage feeders that contain a second outer cage. Birds can sneak through the holes on the outside and access the suet inside, but larger squirrels will have more trouble.

Take the More Birds Squirrel-X Double Suet Feeder, for example. The holes on the side of the feeder aren’t very big, so squirrels or even chipmunks typically won’t be able to squeeze their way in.

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

On the downside, it might also be challenging for larger birds like woodpeckers to get in. If you only need to feed small birds like nuthatches, titmice, and chickadees, this feeder or one like it could be a great solution.

Another option, as mentioned earlier, is suet with small pepper pieces, which is supposed to deter rodents like squirrels while not affecting birds. If you find that the squirrels in your yard are unbothered by pepper suet, you can try another option, but you may find this simple change is enough to keep them away from your feeder.

Before you buy any feeder or suet, evaluate your needs, such as what birds you want to feed and the existing conditions in your backyard.

Where to hang suet feeders

You can generally put suet feeders anywhere that birds frequent. That usually means near other feeders or trees, where suet enthusiasts like woodpeckers and chickadees are commonly found.

If you’re unsure, place your suet feeder a few yards from adequate cover like trees or bushes. Placement can involve a little trial and error, so if the birds aren’t finding it, you may need to move it around a little bit.

If you initially place it near bushes or trees, but birds don’t seem to find it, try putting it by other feeders if you have them. Once birds realize it’s there and start to visit, you can slowly move it further from the other feeders if you want to. Or, you can always leave it near your other feeders, which many people do.

How often to clean suet feeders

You should clean your bird feeders once every two weeks and more often in wet, humid, or warm weather.

Suet feeders can be a little different as well. If you find that your suet is melting, it might be advisable to wait for colder weather.

If it rains or snows, give your suet feeders a quick check and wipe any dripping fat off the feeder. You can also give your feeders a quick wipe with a cloth every time you change the suet cake.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology suggests using a solution that’s nine parts water to one part bleach To clean bird feeders. Rinse all bleach solution off the feeder and give it adequate time to dry before putting it back out for birds, as damp feeders can be a breeding ground for diseases.

What else you need to know

Be patient. It may take birds in your backyard a little time to find your suet feeder, but once they do, you’re sure to see them time and time again.

If you don’t see birds immediately, give it a little while before moving the feeder to a new location, or start by placing your suet feeder close to another feeder that birds frequent.

If you’re putting suet out during summer or early fall, it’s also possible that birds aren’t searching as hard for food sources at that time. Come wintertime, that suet might be a hot commodity for hungry birds trying to survive the cold.

Keep experimenting and find out what works for you. Good luck and happy birding!

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Jacob Swanson

Jacob Swanson is a writer and wildlife photographer born and raised in Wisconsin and currently based in Salt Lake City. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his work has appeared in over a dozen different web and print outlets. In his free time, he’s on a personal quest to visit every U.S. national park and see as many wildlife species as possible. His favorite birds are whooping and sandhill cranes.