Last Updated on October 13, 2020 by Nancie
There are many ways to hang suet feeders. But what is the best way? My approach to offering suet to birds evolved over several years. Through a lot of trial and error with feeder type and placement, I’ve learned a lot along the way and where to hang them. My current suet set-up has been working wonderfully for season after season. Now I don’t have to stress over it at all. It just works.
Upside Down Feeders on a Pole
Several years ago, I tried a lot of locations and strategies for positioning suet feeders. I also tried out a DIY method for “Starling Proofing the Suet” . But when a raccoon started getting into my suet feeders and causing a mess, I changed where I hang them. And that made a huge difference!
I invested in two dual-shepherd’s hook poles with barrel raccoon baffles to deter both squirrels and raccoons. And I added an extra little arm to one of the shepherd’s hooks. This gave me a total of five spots to hang the Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeders which I now use exclusively for suet. For the past two years, this is how my suet has been offered and it has worked beautifully.
Finding The Best Pole Location
One of these shepherd’s hook poles is located a few feet out from a large living room window in the front yard. This one has two suet feeders on it. It is close enough to the front window that bird strikes are minimized. It is also close enough to the front porch that Downy Woodpeckers fly first to the railing’s vertical wood bars to cling briefly before flying to the feeder.
Fortunately even with this relative closeness to the porch and the house, the squirrels have stayed off it completely. It is easy to watch birds on these feeders from the living room.
The other pole is located out in the back yard about twenty-five feet out from the back door. It is easily visible from the kitchen and dining room windows. This is the one with the extra little arm that holds three suet feeders.
Note: If you have any trouble with grackles or starlings using a barrel baffle top to get to the suet, there is a fairly easy fix. Check out my post on Nuisance Birds Use Baffles to Get Suet.
Hanging Suet Away From Other Feeders
Both of these poles ONLY have suet feeders on them and the nearest seed feeders are at least twenty-five feet away. My experiments with placing suet feeders right with seed feeders or even just a little bit away, did not work well. I found placing them at least this distance apart to be important for a couple of related reasons.
First, if you offer suet right next to or on seed feeders, it can spook some of the birds you are trying to attract. Bolder social birds like Carolina Wrens or Blue Jays are usually fine eating suet when other birds are right there. But more solitary birds like Downy Woodpeckers and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers do not want to eat in the middle of noisy flocks of birds.
Second, even if you put only suet feeders on one pole but put that pole too close to other feeders, then you’ll get other birds using the top of the shepherd’s hooks as a place to pause before flying over to the seed feeders. And again, the birds on the suet feeders get disturbed. With woodpeckers, spacing is appreciated.
Because there are two or three suet feeders hanging on the same pole, you might wonder if several birds would be willing to eat at one time. I’ve never seen all three suet feeders in use at once, but there frequently are two in use at once.
If You Don’t Want to Use a Pole
I think poles are the best way to hang a suet feeder to keep squirrels off it. But maybe a pole just isn’t something you want to use in your yard. If that is the case, check out my post on how to Keep Squirrels Off Branch Hung Suet Feeders. On the other hand, my post on Where to Hang a Suet Feeder details pros and cons of a lot of possible suet feeder locations.
Birds on My Suet Feeders
The birds that use our suet feeders most are the two types of woodpeckers and the wrens. But Tufted Titmouses, Carolina Chickadees and White-Breasted Nuthatches will grab a bite every now and then. And the occasional Pine Warbler will eat suet when they come through the yard.
In the spring, Blue Jays will dangle for a moment or two to get some suet for their young. In late winter, European Starlings do the same, but because the feeders are upside down, they tire of it pretty quickly.
Just this past week, three Eastern Bluebirds have been hanging around the yard and have similarly grabbed some suet briefly. Sometimes various birds will poke around on the ground under the feeders to snap up bits of suet that other birds have dropped.
Good quality poles and baffles are not cheap of course, but I have found that by offering suet in this more protected way, I don’t have to refill the suet feeders anywhere near as often as I used to. So this one-time expense is saving me money over time and the birds seem quite happy.
Learn More About Offering Suet
Have questions about offering suet (including strategies for keeping nuisance birds from eating it all)? Check out my Solving Suet & Suet Feeder Problems post.
Or, if you’d rather browse posts I’ve done in the past about suet, you can click on this Suet Posts link. (It will filter the blog’s main feed to only show posts in the “suet” category.)
More Posts on Feeder Placement
Where to Put Bird Feeders: Spread Them Out!
Putting a Ground Feeder on a Pole
How to Hang a Feeder With a Hook
Which Feeders Attract Which Birds?
Want to read more posts about birds? When you subscribe below, you’ll get an email whenever a new post goes up (and ONLY then. Promise!)
Please Note: My blog includes some Amazon affiliate links. The small fees they provide help cover my site costs.
6 thoughts on “Best Way to Hang Suet Feeders”
Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your knowledge! I have employed much of your tips, and subsequently reduced feeding issues.
Hi Debra, Thanks! I’m glad you’ve found them helpful! Good wishes, Nancie
Although I have read that Mockingbirds do not prefer suet, I have a family of Mockingbirds that come to my suet feeder regularly every day. Boo is the parent (I can’t tell male from female on Mockingbirds) and the two siblings are Scout and Jem. I love the Mockingbirds and look forward to them coming every day. Whenever Scout and Jem have babies, I hope they will bring them to the feeder.
Very cool! Birds (and other critters) don’t always seem to pay attention to what they are “supposed” to eat! LOL. I love watching birds introducing their young to feeders.
I don’t have access to tree branches in my yard. I have shepherds hooks for my suet feeders. I have a few woodpeckers that come to the suet feeders but I’m not happy with how they just hang loosely. What can I do?? Help! They starlings are taking over and I’d like to get rid of them without getting rid of all the other birds. I have black capped chickadees, Cardinals, sparrows, woodpeckers, Doves, another one that I haven’t been able to identify yet. (Boo)
The birds that eat suet are typically fine with suet feeders hanging loosely. They are used to swaying tree branches so it typically isn’t a problem for them. But maybe there is a reason that this is a problem in your yard?
If starlings are a problem, I’ve found that the best way to keep them out of a feeder is to use the type of feeder surrounded by a cage. The cage openings are designed to be large enough for small birds to enter but not big enough for larger birds like starlings and grackles. I have reviews of the cage Woodlink and Nuttery Globe seed feeders that I use here on my blog. I also have a review of the Erva Starling-Proof Suet Feeder and Starling-Proof Bluebird feeders that I use too. I have found all of these to be effective in keeping out starlings. The downside is that they won’t work for your cardinals and doves, but adding a cage feeder would at least let the smaller birds eat in peace.