suet feeder height.

mr.croJuly 29, 2010

I recently bought a suet feeder trying to attract woodpeckers. Its been a few days and no birds seem to be feeding on it. I think it may be to low(about 5 ft. up the tree). Should I try to put it up higher and maybe put it in a different tree. Its currently in a pine tree bordering my front yard. I think it may be better in an open area. any suggestions on this?...also would more suet cages help my chances of attracting the birds.

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donald lucius

mine hang from the same branch as the hummingbird and oriole feeders. they are all about 6 foot off the ground.
and about 5 foot from the kitchen window. i don't walk directly up to the window cause it frightens some birds.
but walk around the table and ease up to the side of the window. and peep out. i have taken hundreds of pictures from the window making sure the flash is off and not making sudden moves.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 5:09PM
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I guess by some peoples standards I have violated all the accepted rules for locating feeding stations, however, I took up nature photography as a hobby about a year ago and I located my feeders where I have a direct line of sight from my bedroom window, where I have my camera set up.
The Maple tree is about 40ft out from the window and although it cannot be seen in the picture, there is a 50ft high pine tree about 20 feet to the right of the feeder, and another 50ft pine about 30 feet to the left.
I began by handing the hopper feeder on a low limb on the Maple tree, which placed the feeder about 5ft above the ground. I then mounted two suet feeders on the tree trunk at the same height. In this manner I can take closeup pictures of the birds by means of a 300mm lens, and I can pan from the hopper to the suet feeders without changing focus.
I then wanted a feeder in a bit closer to the window but lacking any suitable means of support I stood an old pipe garment rack about 12ft outside the window and hung both a mixed seed and a niger seed feeder on the rack, plus an old bucket lid tied to the top of the rack to make a flat tray feeder of sorts.
I fill all the hanging feeders, the pour some additional seed on the ground for those birds that prefer to feed on the ground as well as scatter dried bread on the ground.
According to my book, "Wild Birds of Ohio" there are 413 species of birds native to the state of Ohio. to date I have photo documnted 97 species in our yard.
When I first put the suet feeders up it was about 8 or 10 days before I saw any activity, but now it is not uncommon to see 3 or 4 woodpeckers there at the same time. I get a lot of Red Bellied and Downey Woodpeckers on both the suet feeders and the seed feeding stations, and I have twice seen a Red Headed Woodpecker. Although they are known to be in this area, I have yet to see a Pileated Woodpecker but I have a Flicker that freqently lands on the pine tree, then drops down and takes seed on the ground under the hopper feeder.
While many people complain about Starlings and Hosps hogging all the food, I have noted as many as 10 species all feeding at the same time with no noticable conflicts. Personally I beleive the amount of conflict depends upon the prevalence of food. If the supply is threatened many species tend to be territorial, defending their source, on the other hand I keep all the feeders well stocked so none of the birds have to be territorial. Now I will freely admit that I use between 100 and 150lbs of wild bird seed mix per month but I buy my bird seed at a local farm animal feed supplier and I only pay $12 per 50lb bag of their premium mix wth peanuts in it and if I buy 6 bags at the same time I get free delivery.
Given that I sit here watching for 8 to 10 hours a day and shoot upwards of 500 photos a day, I find the cost of the seed to be cheap entertainment,not to mention that I have won two photo contests and sold enough prints of the birds to offset the cost of my birdseed.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:45AM
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Our suet feeders are on shepherds hooks (in the middle of the pole where the two hangers branch out) about 4.6 feet off the ground. We have two suet feeders like this and in between the two of them is a platform feeder on a post that I put BOSS, sunflower hearts and peanuts on. One one of the shepherds hooks there is also a mixed seed feeder hanging on one side (I put BOSS and sunflower hearts in it) and a birdseed block on the other. Then on the other sherpherds hook there is a tube feeder with BOSS in it. These are all right next to the deck about 15-20 feet from the house. There is also a berry tree next to the deck and next to one of the shepherds. On the deck next to the berry tree I put two dishes of jelly for the Orioles and then I have two trays one with peanut butter suet dough and one with sunflower hearts. On the suet feeders we mainly get the Downeys (who let you get pretty close to them) and the Hairys which are much more skittish. We also get Red Bellied Woodpeckers coming to the platform feeder. Many other birds like the suet too. Here is a shot I took of a Downey just the other day, he is right under the suet cage on this branch....I always use Kaytee Woodpecker suet.

The Thrashers and the Catbirds enjoy the suet dough from the tray on the deck....

Good luck, hope you get some woodpeckers coming in. Do you have any other seed feeders out. I would say to put the suet near them if you do to attract the woodpeckers.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 9:29AM
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Occassionally the Starlings try to steal the suet, but the woodpeckers will quickly send them on their way:
Here is a Female Redbelly squairing off with a Starling,

Anther shot of a Male Redbelly defending his territory from a Starling.

Althoiugh I didn't get a picture, I think the funniest incident was a small Downey woodpecker who was chased off the suet feeder by a Starling. When the Starling Arrived the Downy dropped down, took flight and flew a cirle around the tree coming back to land on the Starlings back at which time the Dwony began pecking on the back of the Starlings head like something out of a Woody Woodpecker cartoon. The Starling fell to the ground where it laid for about ten minutes before it got up an walked over under the pine tree.

AS I stated before, there is always a lot of activity at my bird feeders, but don't take my word for it, ask the Woodpecker..........

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 11:28AM
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Hey lazypup, if you could stop feeding millet/corn in your feeder and stop putting out bread crumbs you could cut down on those House Sparrows (3 in that last picture)visiting your feeders and attract more of the desirable birds instead. I saw a huge decrease in HOSP activity once I stopped feeding the cheaper seed/ mixed seed several years ago and started putting out just the BOSS and hearts for seeds.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:27PM
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What does BOSS stand for?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 1:07PM
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You are probably correct about the corn and millet but my intended purpose is to photo document as many species of birds as I can. To that end I put out a large variety of foods that will attract all birds, whether they are consodered desirable or not. In fact,as long as I keep the feeders full I see very little actual competion between any of the species. Now I will freely admit that sometimes I have to refill the feeders 2 or 3 times a day and I scatter a considerable amount of seed as well as Bread, orange peels and apples on the ground but I get the apples free and 10 loaves of bread for a dollar, and there is an upside to this method.
1. The Squirrels actually prefer the bread.:
2. generally the starlings and sparrows prefer to feed on the ground, here again, often preferring the bread to the seed, not to mention that there is a flock of 31 wild turkeys that come in shortly after daylight to get the bread and corn that is left on the ground. Even the Bluejays and Cardinals prefer to feed on the ground and often I see a half a dozen species of birds feeding right alongside a squirrel or chipmonk and on two oc
occasions I have seen a groundhog feeding with the birds.
Now I am sure that I could get a more selective clientele if I changed the menu but at my house Nobody goes away hungry.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 2:07PM
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donald lucius

boss is the initials for black oil sunflower seeds. though some people refer to mixes with black oil sunflowers in them as boss.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 2:19PM
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Thanx for all your info guys!!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 6:34PM
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I asked several birding experts this question "what is the best location for a bird feeder" Almost to a one the answer I got was

Where you can see if from your kitchen table.

A suet feeder 5 feet off the ground is at a good height. It might take birds some time to find it, and then figure out it is safe for them, and then to determine it holds food. I tell my customers that a bird feeder will take anywhere from 3 minutes to 3 months to attract birds. I have had feeders on both ends of that spectrum. But most take a week or so.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 7:00PM
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Hi I just started feeding birds this year I have a mulberry tree and from I hang 3 bird feeder from my cabin I hang 2 others my bigest problem is pegions the only one they don't go on is the tube feeder cause they don't fit on the little tubes. when they land on my big feeder it tilts and the bird food falls out not sure what to do i have put a dish on the ground for them with sunflower seed and bread and a couple of peanuts in it but they it's finished in a madder of an hour I have about 15 to 20 pigions any idea what to do

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 7:41PM
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I prefer to keep WP feeders inside tree canopies. WPs are not the fastest and most skillful flyers and I worry pulling them out in the open is not the safest plan. I usually only feed suet in the cold months.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 3:52PM
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donald lucius

i too feed suet in the cold months but use the suet feeders in warm weather too by making my own mix of raisens and nuts and muixed seed with peanut butter and either molasses or sourghum instead of lard mix the stuff til its thick and sticky and mold into into the cages

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 6:37PM
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Sometimes I worry that the suet I buy in the store might be contaminated with pesticides or other stuff not healthy for the birds. Your recipe sounds like a good one, dklucius. Does anyone else worry about what could be in these suet mixes? Or am I just being a worry wort?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 8:12PM
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Where do you live? In the west, unlike the east, suet is relatively a new food source. I live in California and it took nearly a year for a pair of woodpeckers to finally come down and investigate my two suet feeders I have hanging 6 feet off the ground in a tree. When I first hung the suet feeders it was months before the bird finally came to eat at it. The suet feeders for me mainly attract Chickadees, Oak Titmouse and Nuttalls Woodpeckers.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 12:30AM
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I live in western Massachusetts. My suet feeder (upside down) also has attracted a catbird that hovers below it to get a taste. Some of the finches can attach themselves upside down too, but can't stay that way very long. The woodpeckers rule the feeder though. It's hanging on a shepherd's hook about 5 feet off the ground.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 4:19PM
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