Pileated woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker, the largest woodpecker in North America, hangs upside down while feeding on suet at the Nature Education Center in Fifield. The bird was too big to cling onto the small feeder but figured out after a few hilarious tries how to get at its favorite, tasty, high energy food.

Suet is a high energy winter bird food. It is a great way to attract the suet-eaters: chickadees, woodpeckers, jays, starlings, and nuthatches to backyard bird feeders.

Suet is essentially a solidified mix of fats that some birds like to eat. It provides them energy to stay warm during cold winter days. You can buy suet trimmed off meat at your local butchery or buy suet logs and cakes at supermarkets and farm stores. Commercial suet cakes are treated so they won’t spoil in warmer weather, unlike homemade suet.

You can make your own suet by combining equal parts of beef fat and assorted bird seed. Homemade suet should be used only during very cold weather so that it does not melt and become rancid. If you would like to make some homemade suet, check out these recipes at the Farmers Almanac at: https://www.almanac.com/content/homemade-bird-food-recipe-suet

It is a good idea to use suet only during the winter months starting in December after bears are hibernating. Bear noses can detect suet from a long way. Bears will quickly be attracted to your suet feeders and will destroy them along with your sunflower seed and peanut feeders!

Suet is the perfect food during cold winter months for the suet-eaters when their natural food sources start to dwindle. Plus, it is lots of fun to watch the antics birds got through when going after suet.

We have a pileated woodpecker that tries to get on one of our smaller suet feeders, but the bird is totally too big to get on the feeder. It spends a lot of time going through all kinds of antics to get the suet. It finally figured out that it can hang upside down on a branch to get at the suet as seen in the photo. And, if you would like to see a hilarious 3 ½-minute video of how the pileated figured out how to get the suet, you can see it at: http://www.apg-wi.com/price_county_review/opinion/

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