Sunday, October 25, 2009


Last year the first cake of suet I put out for bird feeding disappeared in a matter of days. I was so glad to see that they were eating it that I bought several more so I wouldn't run out. The next cake hung untouched for weeks. Eventually I took all the suet to my parents. They live in the country and go through all kinds of bird food faster than I do. I suspect that the first cake may have been eaten by squirrels but I never witnessed them in the act.

Consequently, it wasn't until recently that I decided to try offering suet again. I put it in a standard cage feeder that I'd modified by adding a board at the bottom for a tail prop. Woodpeckers like having something to brace their tails against when they perch. I'm happy to report that in only a few days I saw the occasional Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atrocapillus) feeding on the top of the cake. Then I started noticing woodpeckers stopping by for a snack. First, we have a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens.) This one is a female. They lack the red spot on the back of the head that males of the species have.

Downy Woodpeckers are sometimes hard to distinguish from this species, the Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) which is a bit larger and has a noticeably longer bill. This one is a male with the bright red spots on the back of his head.

Finally and much to my delight I've seen a Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) visit as well. This is probably one of my favorite local bird species.

4 Responses:

Gulmohar said...

You have a very interesting space here..Lovely pics..:-)

Dale Forbes said...

3 woodpeckers on the feeder! great!

Sunita said...

Great photos!
But one dumb question ... what on earth is 'suet'? It looks like a chunk of thermacole but seems to be the birds idea of culinary heaven.

Shady Character said...

Good question, Sunita! Suet is the dense fat from around the kidneys of cattle. It stays solid at fairly high temperatures. Since it's loaded with foood energy many birds just love it. It can be melted down and additional birdie treats mixed in like seeds, grains, berries and even dried insects.