Last Updated on October 29, 2020 by Nancie
Where should you hang a suet feeder? Finding the right spot can make all the difference. Here is what I’ve learned about where to place suet feeders. It may just give you some ideas on where to put your own!
In This Post:
- Finding the Best Way to Hang Suet
- Avoiding Bird Window Collisions
- Suet Locations That Didn’t Work
- Suet Locations That Partially Worked
- Suet Locations That Worked
- How Do You Offer Suet in Your Yard?
- More Posts About Suet Feeders
Finding the Best Way to Hang Suet
Location, Location, Location. This is as true for bird feeders as it is to restaurants we humans visit. You can have a great, well-designed feeder with fresh appealing food and get no or very few birds if the location is wrong. And squirrels will eat your suet if you don’t consider them when you pick a spot for your feeder.
When I get a new feeder, I sometimes try several spots until I find where it works best. This post looks in depth at what suet strategies didn’t work in my yard, which ones partially worked and what worked well. I put them in a lot of wrong spots before I found what I think is the right spot.
If you would rather skip right to my current suet feeder location, check out my Best Way to Hang a Suet Feeder post.
Avoiding Bird Window Collisions
Before getting to specific location suggestions, first think about your windows. Window glass reflects plants and sky, which can confuse birds. To minimize birds hitting your windows (which can kill birds), feeders should be either within three feet of a window or more than thirty feet away. The idea is that a startled bird can’t get up enough speed to hurt themselves badly from three feet away. And windows are less likely to be seen as a fly-through at distances of thirty feet away.
Note: If you have trouble with birds hitting your windows, be sure to check out my post on Reducing Bird Strikes: DIY BirdSavers Zen Wind Curtains.
Suet Locations That Didn’t Work
Inside Corner Suet Location
Cons: Hanging a suet feeder from the house right next to the dining room window was a complete bust. Sure, it would have let me see birds very well. But this window is in an inside corner. I suspect this made birds feel trapped and less able to get away from a predator. Not a single bird visited either a regular cage suet feeder or this house-like feeder hung here. (Note: This location is however popular with hummingbirds when I hang a hummingbird feeder there in warm months.)
Suet on the Same Pole with Busy Feeder
Another spot that didn’t work well was on the arm of a pole next to a platform feeder. (Note: In the picture, two cage suet feeders are wired together with suet in one and a nut block in the other.)
Pros: In this location, the feeder would sometimes get a Carolina Wren and very occasionally a Downy Woodpecker when other suet feeders were full. And because it was hung on a baffled pole, this spot was squirrel proof.
Cons: Suet-eating birds were often spooked by bird activity on the platform feeder next to it. (The platform feeder was often full of busy active birds like American Goldfinches, House Finches and Blue Jays.)
Branch-Hung Suet Next to Busy Feeder
Cons: Yet another unsuccessful spot was hanging suet on a branch a few feet from a Squirrel Buster Plus feeder. Same problem. Too much activity on the other feeder made it an unappealing place for quieter suet eating birds to dine. Squirrels could also easily climb down the un-baffled chain to get the suet.
Suet Locations That Partially Worked
Hanging Suet on Low Bushes Near Window
Next to bedroom windows at the front of our house are two leggy bushes. I hung two suet blocks from these bush branches about three feet from the window. There is a homemade birdbath in this area and a Squirrel Buster Plus Feeder hanging from a tree about thirty feet away. This makes it a popular spot with birds in the yard.
Pros: Suet here appealed to Downy Woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens and Tufted Titmouses all year round and the occasional Red-Bellied Woodpecker. In the spring, other birds, especially Blue Jays, brought their fledglings to these feeders, which was very cool to watch.
There is a window seat on the inside of this window where our four indoor cats like to sleep and bird watch. The birds seemed to realize that they were no danger behind the glass and ignored the cats.
Cons: The downside to this location is that they were easy for squirrels to access so they would be occasional pests on them. But what finally made this location not work for me was a raccoon that kept pulling down the hot pepper suet and trying to wash it in the birdbath.
Suet Dangling on Large Bush Near Window
I hung another suet feeder near a window at the far front end of the house hidden behind a large evergreen bush. This feeder dangled by a very long chain from a thin flexible branch.
Pros: This one was popular with the same birds, and had the added advantage of being a more protected location. Here too, one of our cats could sit on the other side of the window, bird watching.
This feeder, dangling on such a long chain, required squirrels to be more acrobatic, but they could still get into it if hungry enough to mess with it. I moved it around on the bush to find the branch and chain length that made it the hardest for a squirrel so they didn’t get on it a lot.
Hanging Suet Near Back Door
I hung yet another suet feeder on a post off our back steps, a few feet to the side of the kitchen window.
Pros: This feeder got visited mostly by Downy Woodpeckers and Carolina Wrens and the occasional squirrel.
Cons: It was the least used of the suet feeders, probably partially because it was located by a busy doorway and partially because of its hidden suet access . . .
. . . but it was nice to look out the window while cooking dinner and see a Downy Woodpecker on the feeder. (Note: See my Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeder post to learn how I helped birds find the suet in this type of feeder.)
Putting Suet Against a Tree Trunk
Pros: If you ask Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers and White-Breasted Nuthatches for their favorite suet feeder spot, they would probably tell you right up next to a tree trunk. These birds like to land higher or lower on the trunk and then sidle down or up to the feeder level. They loved it.
Cons: Unfortunately, squirrels loved it too. They were on it so much that birds rarely had a chance, especially in cold weather. So this location unfortunately had to go.
Suet Locations That Worked
Branch-Hung Suet Protected by Baffles
In the back yard, I hung three feeders on high tree branches, two of them protected by Erva extra-large baffles.
VERY IMPORTANT: If you protect a feeder with a hanging baffle, it is important to get the placement of the feeder and the baffle right. Otherwise, squirrels will get around the baffle and onto the feeder. See my post: Keep Squirrels Off Branch Hung Suet for tips on how to do this.
Pros: This spot was near enough to my dining room window that I could see them well. But it was still far enough from the house that the danger of window strikes was lessened. It was also just enough removed from other feeders that they were not spooked by busier bird activity.
These three feeders were popular with Downy Woodpeckers, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice and occasionally a Pine Warbler.
Cons: You need to work hard on feeder and baffle placement to keep squirrels off suet hung on branches. I played around with placement for quite a while, searching for just the right spots on a large tree’s branches. (A larger suet or nut block plus a metal baffle can get heavy; add the weight of a bird and it can break a lighter branch. So the branch had to be fairly heavy and sturdy.)
Suet Feeder on Its Own Baffled Pole
My suet feeder strategy has evolved over the years since I originally wrote this post. After trying a wide variety of suet locations, I eventually moved all my suet feeders onto two poles, one in the front yard and one in the back. It is working excellently!
Pros: Putting the suet on their own poles away from other busy feeders lets woodpeckers and other birds eat in a quieter setting. Because I baffle the poles from below, squirrels are not a problem.
To learn how I set up my suet feeders on poles, check out my Best Way to Hang A Suet Feeder post.
How Do You Offer Suet in Your Yard?
What has worked for you in offering suet to birds in your yard? Do you use this type of commercial suet and/or nut block or do you make your own and offer it differently? Please share in the comments.
More Posts About Suet Feeders
Best Way to Hang a Suet Feeder
Solving Suet & Suet Feeder Problems
Keep Squirrels Off Branch Hung Suet
Acrobatic Grackles At My Suet Feeders
Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeder Review
Does Hot Pepper Suet Deter Squirrels?
Bird Feeder Baffles in the Wind & Suet
Erva Starling-Proof Suet Feeder Review
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35 thoughts on “Where to Hang a Suet Feeder?”
Wow! Awesome post!! I just found your bird blog & love it!! Thank you so much for all the awesome advice on suet feeders! Can’t wait for your next post!
Hi Tami, I’m so glad you liked it. I hope you find it helpful in your yard. : ) Nancie
Very interesting article.
Do you continue feeding the birds suet in the summer, or do you only do it when the weather’s cool?
Hi Becky, I offer suet year round. Ironically, I find it even more popular in the spring than during the colder months because as well as the woodpeckers, many other birds like suet especially when raising new families. Spring is usually the most active period at the suet feeders followed by winter and then fall. Summer is slower but the woodpeckers still very much enjoy it.
It is important that suet not be allowed to go bad as it can in hot humid months. I use no-melt suet which helps but I also keep an eye on the suet to make sure it doesn’t get moldy, especially after periods of rain and then heat. I have a lot of suet feeders and if I find it isn’t all getting eaten before it starts to turn, I’ll reduce the amount of suet I offer. Even if you have just one feeder, you can always cut a suet cake in half and offer just part at a time if you find that it isn’t getting eaten quickly enough.
Hope this helps. 🙂
Thanks so much, Nancie! I’m brand new to this and put out my first suet feeder last evening (here in Southern California – I’m in Burbank, just outside of Los Angeles). Haven’t had a single bird go near it so far, so I’m thinking of moving it closer to a tree. Right now it’s on a shepherd’s hook near our garage and I’m thinking the location is less than ideal.
I have a ton of house finches and sparrows congregating around a platform and nyjer feeder, but I was hoping to entice a wider variety of birds with the suet. I know it can take time for birds to discover the new food source, and I did get the “no melt” variety – I guess I’m just paranoid that the suet will spoil more quickly in the heat (even in the shade) and go to waste before they realize I’ve put it out for them. Am I overthinking this?
I don’t think you are overthinking it. You should be fine moving the suet feeder if you think it’s not in a spot that will entice birds. In my experience, it can take a while for birds to discover a new feeder but once you get one bird, you’ll often soon get a second and then more. They seem to communicate the food availability to other birds somehow. Also, birds watch other birds and if they see another bird getting something good to eat, they are likely to check it out themselves. How quickly you start getting visitors to that feeder will probably depend on what types of birds are already around your neighborhood area, but don’t be surprised if you need to wait a week or more. A lot of birds seem to have routines and it can take a little while for a bird that doesn’t already visit your yard to wander by and see that there is something new for them. I know myself how hard it is to be patient when you are waiting for birds to discover a feeder!
I live in the Mid-Atlantic on the east coast so the specific list of species may vary a bit, but the birds that like suet in my yard include: Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, White-Breasted Nuthatch (sometimes although I think they like nut blocks better), Blue Jays, Gray Catbird, Common Grackle and European Starling. The Fish Crows love it too but they are too big for the feeders I use. So your first suet visitors may or may not be woodpeckers.
My area is notoriously hot and humid in the summer. That combination can encourage things to grow on suet after awhile. I suspect that it may not be as big a problem where it is instead hot and dry in the summer. I don’t usually have problems with it unless we have a lot of hot days with a lot of rain too. This time of year the birds are eating it fast enough that it isn’t a problem even though it have rained a lot lately. You just have to keep an eye on it and you’ll get a feel for how much to put out.
Fantastic article, great read and ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Thank you for the information.
I see you leave the plastic tray on tbe suet blocks? Does that bother the birds?
It also looks like most of the feeders are “wedged” between branches as opposed to swinging. Does that help encourage more feeding as they have someplace to “light” on and the wind won’t swing them around?
Hi Leslee, Leaving the plastic tray on suet blocks is kind of a DIY no-extra-cost way to create an upside down type of suet feeder. By hanging them horizontally and leaving the tray on top, the birds must hang from beneath it to eat suet. This is easy for woodpeckers and nuthatches but more challenging for other birds like European Starlings. The starlings have a tendency to get on a regular suet feeder and eat for hours until it is gone. With this, they can still make suet grabs and/or hang on for a little while, but it keeps them from hogging it. The plastic can also keep the suet drier.
I never actually had any feeders wedged between branches but did have a few right up against the trunk of a tree. The woodpeckers and nuthatches really like this quite a lot, but unfortunately so do squirrels.
More recently, I had a problem with something, possibly a raccoon but I never saw it, opening up my cage suet feeders and putting the suet into the birdbaths where it would dissolve into a big mess (probably in an attempt to wash off the hot pepper flavor.) I resolved it by switching over completely to commercial upside-down suet feeders hung on two tall poles. (If you look at the end of this post, you’ll see links to other posts describing those feeders and my switch to putting them on the poles.)
Cave Creek, AZ. WE STARTED FEEDING SUET in two double and two single cages placed in 12inch clay saucers on top of our stucco painted block wall easily seen from the kitchen window. They regularly come and feed, but their droppings make the wall filthy and forced us to scrape and prime and repaint the wall. Thought the clay plant saucers would prevent it??? No cactus or trees close enough to use. Any suggestions? Thanx
Hi John, One possibility is to hang the suet cages from a pole. That way you have more options for placement. Nancie
Thanks for all the knowledge re: hanging suet cages…I am a newbie to suet feeding tech! So when I found your blog…great trial and error advice. Thanks again.
Hi Jul, I’m glad to hear it is helpful! : ) Nancie
Thinking of hanging suet in our hedges before they begin to leaf out. I think the branches are too thin and thick for squirrels.
Hi Brad. My approach is to try it and watch to see what happens and be willing to adjust things as needed. Squirrels are amazing acrobats and can leap, grab and dangle. I’ve seen them shimmy down thin metal feeder hooks and nimbly skitter over thin chains. I’ve had my best luck with keeping them off of suet by using upside down suet feeders on baffled poles. But every tree and bush is different so you might find that the branches in your hedge are just right. I’d say definitely give it a try and see what happens. Nancie
Thanks for the info , very helpful , where can I purchase a metal baffle ? No matter what I do the squirrels get into everything
The ones I use are made by Erva. They sell them in my local bird store but you can also find some of Erva’s baffles on Amazon. This one is a baffle to use on a pole: https://amzn.to/2LAA0uV . Here is a more general page of Erva products on Amazon where you can also find the disk type that can be used for hanging feeders:https://amzn.to/2NDx2mP . Nancie
I tried my suet feeders on the underside of the house over hangs with no luck yet…I am hoping the lack of snow and warmer temperatures in central NY have given the birds more than normal food sources but once the snow comes and stays, I am hoping more traffic will ensue….are overhangs good for the suet or are they too close to the house…I also have a multiple bird feeder with seed in middle and suet on side…squirrels were trying to get on it but I coated pole with tack cement to deter this and also ordered some Tanglefoot to even further scare away the persistent rodents…I am thinking of moving suets to a evergreen type tree and using tanglefoot to keep squirrels of but I won’t be able to see birds as well as off the edge of the house..do you think the lack of snow is keeping birds away from feeders or are they just in bad spots….other regular seed feeder is hanging off fence post near some pine trees…it is supposed to attract cardinals and blue jays but nothing yet…thanks
Hi Brian, I think in general, suet feeders ought to work under a house overhang. I’ve successfully placed them under the edge of my back porch overhang and have hung them on the backside of a cypress bush that is just a few feet from the house and birds have used them. It can take a while for birds to find feeders especially feeders that are new to a yard. You need one bird to figure it out and then announce it to her friends. So that might be part of it. But you may be right about the warmer temperatures. I’ve noticed that I haven’t needed to re-fill my suet feeders here in Maryland quite as often so far this winter and we haven’t really had any serious snow or extended cold yet. Actually in my yard, the most popular time for suet is in the spring when the birds are feeding their young. Winter is the second favorite time typically.
I’m not familiar with tack cement or Tanglefoot so I can’t really comment on how they will work on deterring squirrels. You do want to be really careful about sticky substances around bird feeders though. If a bird gets it into their wings it can make it difficult for them to fly. I’d be really cautious about that.
I have honestly had my best luck with dealing with squirrels by hanging the suet feeders from shepherd’s hook type poles that have the pole baffled by the kind of squirrel or raccoon baffle that goes on the pole underneath the feeders. As long as the poles are placed far enough from anything the squirrels can jump from and the baffles are properly positioned on the pole, it keeps the squirrels out. In my mind it is worth paying for the pole and baffle once and then never having to do anything else to keep the squirrels out of the food. (I’ve done other posts here about putting feeders on poles that you might find interesting.)
A couple other thoughts: Suet attracts a variety of birds. Quite a few of them like to nest and/or shelter in the holes of trees. My yard is really popular with woodpeckers not only for the suet but also for the dead branches and tree stumps that give them shelter (and bugs.) It sounds like your yard has trees so that would help with attracting birds of all kinds. Water is also a really big attraction for birds. A birdbath (with a heater in the winter) can bring birds that might otherwise not come to feeders too.
I’ve found that woodpeckers tend to be more solitary (mostly) in their feeding. They will eat around other birds but get spooked by a nearby crowd. When I put suet feeders right next to seed feeders, the woodpeckers will try it but will often move off as soon as other birds come to get the seed. They are happier if the suet feeder is a little ways off so they can settle in and eat in peace. Some other other birds that eat suet don’t care as much. The Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmouses and Blue Jays are more okay with eating next to other birds . . . well, the Blue Jays tend to temporarily move the other birds off when they arrive but they don’t usually stay all that long.
Hope this is helpful.
thanks Nancie, all you told me is helpful….I have only even seen a woodpecker around my house…it had a big red head and looked to be about a foot tall….if these came to the yard , that would be a real treat to see and photograph….I am just happy to see more birds than the little sparrows that seem to enjoy the tube feeder…I am looking to see cardinals and blue jays(even though they are mean to the little birds but pretty)…that is why I got the suet and other seed to attract a variety in the yard…I know the colorful ones are around but they never liked the food in the tube and prefer bigger seed…thanks again
Hi Brian, Sure thing. Your woodpecker sounds fun. From the big red head, I’m thinking maybe a Red-headed Woodpecker or a Pileated Woodpecker?
In my yard, the Cardinals love safflower seed in platform or hopper style feeders. They don’t like the tube feeders as much. The Blue Jays LOVE peanuts.
The squirrels are arcrobats indeed. What works best to hang bird feeders and the suet feeders and is cheapest is regular twine, the kind you use to fly a kite.
Its not sturdy enough for them to cling on to and drap down to the feeder. Hang like u said over a tall tree if you have one… Mine hand about 15 feet down from a large tree… You can get creative, on feeders with a hook, simply tie a knot and toss, on the suet, do a criss cross X and toss,
Toss- attach one end of the string and tape it to a baseball or softball, toss it over the branch of your choice. And dont get discouraged, its fun, itll take a few times unless uve pitched for the yankess, and once u make it over once… Pull that strng down, up ur feeder goes, and toss again, the second string is support and balance.
If u go too high, just wrap, and kindly ask the tree if they mind. Amen.
Thanks for sharing this. I’ve never tried twine for hanging feeders. Interesting! I’ll have to give it a try.
I’m transplanted from the Northeast to the Southeast of Florida. I am blessed with a vast and amazing amount of birds, waterfowl, gray squirrels, flying squirrels (I actually love squirrels), and other critters of interest.
I have many bird feeders and many feeders meant specifically for squirrels. I love every moment I get to view all my visitors.
One of the most amazing birds I get to see are woodpeckers of just about every size and shape imaginable, so I have put out every type of suet feeders on the market. But these Florida woodpeckers just do not appreciate having their “goodies” swinging in the balmy breeze. They will land on the adjacent tree trunk, but will not land on the feeders. Especially the very large Pileated woodpeckers. I do mean very large, these guys/gals down here are the largest I’ve ever seen.
So, my question is how and where and what kind of feeders can I find that I can securely attach to the tree trunks so these marvelous birds can partake of my offerings of “gourmet goodies.
Having squirrels share in the “feast” is not a problem. Everycritter is welcome.
I am not fortunate enough to have Pileated Woodpeckers in my yard so I am very envious! : ) The largest woodpeckers I’ve had in my yard are Red-Bellied Woodpeckers and they are fine with the upside down feeders I use.
While I can’t offer a suggestion from my own personal experience, this is a post from another blog about feeding suet to Pileateds and it makes sense to me: https://betweennapsontheporch.net/best-suet-feeder-for-pileated-woodpeckers/
The feeder she uses looks like a Bird’s Choice brand feeder. I have a lot of their feeders (of other types including the upside down suet feeders) and really like their quality. Here is a link to a similar feeder on Amazon: This one has an extra-long tail prop for the bird’s tail. Because this type of feeder has a prop for the bird’s tail, it ought to work hung from a tree branch or pole. Or you should be able to attach it to a tree trunk by the hanger with a nail or hook.
Another option might be to get a regular inexpensive old-fashioned cage suet feeder and hang it right up against the tree trunk, attaching it by the hanger with a nail. Hung that way, the tree trunk would be support for their tail. I used to do this and the woodpeckers and nuthatches in my yard liked it a lot. The squirrels just got too aggressive when I put suet against the tree trunks this way and the woodpeckers couldn’t really get access, so I moved to hanging the suet feeders on a branch or from a pole instead.
Good luck! I’d love to hear what you do.
Thank you for the good info. Great article.
After many squirrel related annoyances, I moved to commercially available hot pepper suet cakes, notably C&S’s Hot Pepper Delight. No squirrels! I hang a block feeder on a hook outside my home office window, birds all year round here in northern NJ. Cheers!
I’ve used hot pepper suet too. (There are some posts on my blog about it if you are interested.) Squirrels in my yard were not fans of it, but in the coldest months of winter, they would still get into it. I think they have to be pretty hungry to be willing to eat it. The thing that finally got me to move my suet feeders to poles was that I started finding the suet cakes soaking in my ground level birdbath. I suspect it was probably a racoon rather than a squirrel but I never actually saw the critter. I think it was trying to wash the pepper out of the suet cake. Big mess. I do like that now I can use any kind of suet cake I like and not have to worry about squirrels.
I’m glad the hot pepper cakes are working for you and you’ve found a place where you can enjoy them while you work!
I know zilch about birds. We have 3 acres with lots of pine, maple and oak. And birds hawks(nesting), owls(nesting, woodpeckers, cardinals, every manner of tiny bird. I thought it would be fun to hang a top baffled suet cage from 3” diameter branch of the old stand alone maple in the middle of our back yard surrounded by lawn. Yesterday I filled it with fat trimmings from a brisket and now hangs from the branch almost six feet from the ground and 6-8 feet from trunk of maple tree. So firstly, brisket fat trimmings? Bad idea? Secondly, even if brisket fat is acceptable how long should I wait before trying a new location?
In my yard, I have only offered commercial rendered suet cakes. I have not tried offering fat trimmings myself. My understanding is that clean trimmings from beef is ok to offer backyard birds. If you simply put out the unrendered fat, you need to keep an eye on it because it can go bad more quickly, especially if it is warm where you live. Keeping it out of warm sunlight might help it last longer. If you are interested in rendering the suet, you might find this article on Spruce’s website helpful: https://www.thespruce.com/simple-bird-suet-recipe-386579
When putting up a new feeder, it can take days or weeks for birds to find it . . . or it can take minutes or hours. If you don’t normally have bird feeders in your yard, it might take local birds awhile to realize the food is there. It is hard to say. I’d give it at least a week in your first location before trying another spot. Just keep an eye on the fat in the meantime.
No birds will come to new fresh beef suet. (Over a week) I always have had downeys and many others.
Whenever I’m not seeing birds at a feeder like I am expecting, I think about all the possibilities. First, double-check the food to make sure it is still good and the feeder is working correctly (so the food is accessible). If yes, think about where the feeder is and if anything has changed. Have you moved the feeder to a new location? Are you trying a new feeder or a new way to present the food? Have you seen the birds you are hoping to feed in your immediate area lately? Has anything changed in your yard? For example, is there a hawk or cat around that might be causing other birds to stay away? Is there any unusual/different activity in the area that might be spooking the birds? The other thing that can sometimes make a difference is time of year. In my yard, the suet feeders are most active in the colder months of the year when birds are looking for extra energy and get much less business when it is warm.
It’s hard to say which thing might be the problem. Sometimes you have to watch and see and try different things. And sometimes you just have to wait.