A SERVICE OF THE OUTDOOR WIRE DIGITAL NETWORK
WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2018
Red-headed Woodpecker photo by Katy Konrad
Diversifying the foods at your feeding station can really pay off by attracting birds that might otherwise not visit. Summer suet, also known as no-melt suet, is a great way to add some new excitement to your summer yard. No-melt suet is my favorite option in the sandhills of South Carolina, where summer is hot and humid.
There are lots of families of American Goldfinches and House Finches coming to my seed feeders, along with Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice, but the most unusual birds are coming to the suet, which is just barely not melting in the mid-summer heat.
Brown-headed Nuthatch families are regulars at the summer suet station. Several Pine Warblers also visit, including a bright yellow male and a really drab young bird. I watched a Downy Woodpecker feed suet to a recent fledgling perched right next to the feeder, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are daily visitors.
Best birds, though, are new arrivals: Red-headed Woodpeckers. I’ve had Red-heads fly over my yard before, but when I added summer suet to my feeding station, they started visiting the feeders – and they are spectacular birds! I often train my spotting scope on them while they eat suet so I can soak in their bold red, white and black plumage at high magnification.
Male and female Summer Tanagers also feast on suet. Our small backyard is nestled in a pine-oak forest, and whenever I hear the “tick-up” call of a Summer Tanager, I get my binoculars ready so I can watch them feed. I mostly encounter this species high-up in pine trees, so seeing Summer Tanagers at eye level in good light is a real treat.
Without the no-melt suet variety, regular suet wouldn’t last a day in our summer temperatures. It seems to be a favorite of adult birds that often feed it to fledglings who accompany them right to the suet feeder.
One other tip: When I first offered no-melt suet cakes, I mostly attracted Gray Squirrels. On the advice of the experts at my local wild bird retail store, I switched to the hot pepper variety, which does not interest the squirrels.
Article by Peter Stangel
Do you have a tip for attracting new birds to your yard? Please share your backyard birding experiences and photos with us at firstname.lastname@example.org