A Comprehensive Guide to Bird Suet and Feeders

A Comprehensive Guide to Bird Suet and Feeders

May 28th 2024

As seasons change, so do the challenges birds face. While good nutrition is crucial year-round, harsh weather brings a greater need for extra energy. Suet is a high-fat food packed with calories that birds love. This guide to bird suet and feeders will equip you with everything you need to know about attracting feathered friends to your backyard with bird suet.

This guide will help you create a backyard space where birds can eat, grow, and thrive, from the different types of suet and bird feeding techniques to proper placement and helpful tips.

Bird Suet

Suet refers to the high-energy rendered fat obtained from cows, sheep, and other animals. It is one of the key ingredients used in bird food, particularly valuable when insects, their natural source of protein, become scarce.

Bird suet is a popular and beneficial food for wild birds, especially during fall and winter. It gives them the extra calories to stay warm and maintain their energy levels. Think of it as a natural power bar that keeps them fueled, during the colder months.

What Are Suet Feeders?

The suet is often mixed with extras like nuts, peanut butter, and corn to create a healthy and protein-rich meal. This meal needs a dispenser to be safely and conveniently available for birds. A suet feeder is a specialized bird feeder designed to hold and dispense suet cakes, balls, or plugs. It is usually a square-shaped cage made of wire mesh that can securely hold the suet feed.

The wire mesh allows birds to access the suet cake while keeping the food secure and deterring larger animals, creating a balanced feeding environment.

Birds Attracted by Suet Feeders

Suet feeders are a sanctuary for many wild and backyard birds that might not typically visit seed feeders. The specific birds you attract depend on the suet mix, feeder type, and your location. However, some of the most common feathered guests drawn to suet feeders include chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.

Let's look at some of the most common types of birds that love to visit suet feeders.

1. Chickadees

Chickadees are some of the most regular visitors of suet feeders and are easily recognizable by their black caps and white cheeks. They can be easily found throughout the year in North America, relying on insects for a large part of their diet. Suet provides a vital source of high-energy fat in cold weather. Their persistent "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" call adds a cheerful sound to your suet feeder experience.

2. Nuthatches

Nuthatches are often known for their stocky build, short tails, and curved solid beaks for prying open seeds and insects. Unlike most birds, they can cling upside down to trees and feeders. They break suet food into bite-sized pieces to eat.

3. Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are often known for their elaborate beaks that chisel through wood for hidden insects. They're especially drawn to suet mixed with sunflower seeds, peanut butter, or nuts. Your familiar visitors may include Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied woodpeckers.

Types of Suet Feed

Bird suet is a mixture of healthy ingredients and flavors. You can create plenty of simple suet recipes at home for a DIY bird-feeding experience. Let's explore the different flavors of suet and which birds love them most.

1. Fruit

These suet cakes are infused with apples, berries, and oranges. They are packed with healthy nutrients and tangy flavors that attract various birds, including woodpeckers, chickadees, jays, and starlings.

2. Nuts

Nuts are a great winter energy source for birds. Suet mixed with peanuts, walnuts, pecans, or almonds provides a power-packed food that helps birds stay warm and energetic during the colder months.

3. Seeds

Many suet options contain nutritious seeds like sunflower and nyjer. These tiny powerhouses are easily digestible for birds, providing a source of essential nutrients to keep them well-fed and energetic.

4. Insects

Suet mixed with mealworms or dried insects is an irresistible treat for insect-craving birds like woodpeckers and mockingbirds.

5. No-Melt Suet Food

Birds need energy all year, so providing them with alternatives during the cold months is a great way to provide them with the food they need. Peanut butter is excellent for making no-melt summer suet because of its high melting point (around 150°F). Adding it as a binding agent along with other delicacies can keep the suet healthy and edible for a long time in the summer.

Types of Suet Feeders

Suet feeders come in various shapes and sizes, catering to your preferences. The ideal choice depends on your hanging location, desired birds, and suet type. Let's explore popular options to attract different suet-loving birds to your backyard.

1. Metal Suet Cage

It is the most commonly available and budget-friendly cage feeder. Made from wire mesh, it offers easy visibility for all kinds of birds to access the suet cake. The wire mesh minimizes suet crumbs falling to the ground, and a handy hook allows easy hanging from a tree branch or pole.

2. Upside Down Feeder

These suet feeders deter large birds and squirrels by distributing the suet from below, favoring birds like nuthatches who can comfortably feed while hanging upside down.

3. Tail Pop Feeders

These feeders are designed specifically for woodpeckers. They have a long, narrow cage with a tail prop at the bottom, allowing woodpeckers to brace themselves for better leverage and stability while feeding.

4. Shelter Feeders

Shelter feeders resemble small houses with roofs, offering protection for suet. This design shields the suet from harsh weather conditions, such as rain and snow, keeping it dry and fresh.

5. Ball Suet Feeders

Ball suet feeders are similar to cage feeders but with a more flexible design. This allows them to store suet balls securely. They cater to birds that prefer clinging to a rounded surface.

6. Plug Suet Feeders

Plug suet feeders are designed for suet in the form of pre-shaped plugs or logs. These feeders typically have cages with holes that perfectly fit the suet plugs. This design is ideal for woodpeckers and birds that prefer to perch and peck at suet.

The Right Way to Hang the Suet Feeders

Suet feeders can be hung in your backyard like regular bird feeders. Sturdy tree. However, unlike seed feeders, suet has specific seasonal needs.

Fall, winter, and late summer are the prime times to offer suet cakes to the birds. During the warmer months, direct sunlight can melt the suet, making it stale or less enjoyable. To ensure the suet stays fresh and attracts birds, choose a location that receives dappled sunlight or partial shade.

Additional Tips for Offering Suet to Birds

While suet is a delectable feast for our feathered friends, there are a few additional practices to consider. Let's explore some helpful tips for a successful and enjoyable suet feeding experience.

  • Skip the Sugar: Birds don't need empty calories. Avoid adding sugary ingredients and go for healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds, and fruits.
  • Quality: Invest in a well-made suet feeder for durability and ease of use.
  • Cleanliness: Regularly clean your suet feeder with warm water and a mild soap or detergent to maintain hygiene and prevent the spread of fungus.
  • Squirrel Proofing: Squirrels and other wildlife love suet, too! Consider squirrel-proof feeders or attachments to deter unwanted creators.


This guide has explored the details of suet feeding, highlighting its importance for the birds. By understanding the types of suet, feeders, and proper placement, you can transform your backyard into a sanctuary for chickadees, woodpeckers, and many other fascinating birds. Remember, providing a balanced seasonal food source is key to attracting various birds to your backyard, keeping them healthy, and bringing joy throughout the year.

DripWorks, with over three decades of experience in agriculture, landscaping, and gardening, offers top-quality bird supplies, including suet feeders and food. Visit us online at DripWorks for more details. If you want to know more about gardening, drip irrigation, and other topics, read our various online blogs.