Most of the birds in our backyard are suet junkies. I can put out a squishy cake of this animal fat in the morning, and the starlings and jays and other big-mouths will go through the whole thing by day's end.
Although feeding the birds and watching them at the feeders is a relaxing pastime, I can't afford to be the Mother Teresa of the bird world.
So -- true confession -- I only put out suet when I am around to enjoy the show (and when I am around to rap on the window to scare away the starlings for a minute or two).
A friend suggested a new way of dispensing suet.
Instead of simply taking the suet out of its plastic container and sticking the suet cake in the hanging wire basket, one leaves the suet cake in the plastic and hangs the wire basket upside down, as pictured above.
The thinking is that it's tough for the grackles to eat the suet, while the nimbler smaller birds like chickadees and nuthatches can still get their chow.
I've tried it for few days now, and I still have lots of suet left in the cake. So far, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, red-bellied woodpeckers, downies, chickadees, titmice and nuthatches have mastered the suet cake.
A blue jay landed, tried to peck through the plastic, and gave up.
I see that feeder companies actually sell upside-down suet dispensers, and they look nicer than my contraption, but for now mine works just fine.
And the smaller birds don't get bullied by the grackles and other big boys.