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If you use suet plug bird feeders you know how incredibly messy they are to fill.
[A quick note to those who don't feed birds or use suet bird food - Suet food usually comes in either bricks or plugs. The binding agent for the bird seed is suet (animal fat or partially solidified grease.)]
I’ll say this, what suet cages lack in beauty they more than make up for in ease of use. Suet plug feeders, on the other hand, provide a certain almost rustic appeal, but, boy, oh boy. By the time you get all the feeder holes filled with suet plugs … Have you ever seen a 12-month old baby that’s been handed a HUGE slice of birthday cake – loaded with chocolate icing, of course! – and the birthday baby is encouraged to have at it?! Well, when you’re done filling suet plug feeders you end up looking a little like that. Granted, your face is clean, but your hands are unfit to touch ANYTHING.
The reason for this mess, aside from the fact that you’re dealing with “grease,” is because the plug holes are a bit snug, which requires pushing the suet plugs through the holes.
Recently, as I finished filling my suet plug feeder, I thought, “There’s GOT to be a better way to do this. The plugs are simply too soft and slimy, something that doesn’t happen with … frozen food.” Light bulb!
1. Freeze the Suet Plugs
Freezing them made a huge difference.
Freezing bird food suet plugs makes the job of filling the suet plug feeders a WHOLE lot easier for two reasons:
- Nearly everything, except water, contracts in its frozen state. This makes the plugs ever so slightly smaller; and
- Pushing the plugs through the plug holes doesn’t become a mushy mess when the plugs are hard.
2. Sand the Plug Holes (if necessary)
If freezing suet plugs before each feeder refill is a hassle, then take 10 minutes and sand down the inside of the plug holes with a piece of sandpaper. There may only be one suet plug hole that tends to be a bit of a snug fit for the suet plugs. A few minutes of sanding should take care of that once and for all.
3. Bring Feeders Inside at Night
I still don’t know how long it takes our birds to consume four suet plugs.
In a 12-hour period they might eat, oh, I don’t know … the equivalency of 25%-33% of one plug. At the rate of 25%, assuming they only eat during half the day, four plugs should last 16 days. Four plugs were lasting me 24 hours. I know, that’s some weird math, right? But it’s true. I would put four new plugs into the feeder on a Saturday morning, and the feeder was still mostly full by dark. The next morning, I would find it licked clean.
I finally got smart and decided I’d take 30 seconds in the evening and bring the suet feeder inside. More times than not I forget to bring them in, and I wake up to empty feeders.
Raccoons sneak out at night and devour these yummy suet plugs.
At first, I ruled out raccoons. Our bird feeders are strung on a wire between two trees. I’ve seen raccoons climb one of the trees at dusk and reach over to the bird seed feeder; but I’ve had the suet feeders too far from the trees for any raccoon – even one with long arms! – to reach the suet plug feeder.
I figured our squirrels and chipmunks were the culprits UNTIL … Just the other night, I had left the suet feeder outside, and it was already dark. I went outside with a flashlight, and as I approached the feeder I startled A RACOON.
I kid you not, SOMEHOW it managed to walk(?) across the wire to get to the feeder. How, I have absolutely no idea. It all happened so quickly, but I DID see the raccoon quickly scamper from the feeder back to the tree. I would need to see it in slow motion to know how it managed to walk across a wire. A mystery …
Do you use suet plug bird food?
Do you have any helpful tips or comical eye-witness accounts involving suet plug feeders?