How to feed suet to GS Woodpeckers, but not squirrels?

My garden backs onto woods so naturally we have a lot of birds but with this comes a lot of squirrels. There are so many and they are such a problem here that I have to feed all of the food from squirrel proof feeders. My question is, does anyone have any ideas for how I can feed suet to the GS Woodpeckers without feeding the squirrels? I have a fat ball feeder with a cage around it but obviously this keeps woodpeckers out. I did try using a squirrel peanut buster feeder with suet pellets in it, however I’ve found that these just get stuck in the feeder where birds can’t reach them and they go mouldy. Any ideas would be appreciated. 

Many thanks 

  • I'm no expert but you could try using hot suet, which is supposed to burn mammals mouths but be alright for birds. But I've never tried it so I can't guarantee it will work.



  • I had a similar problem . My solution was to get a feeding station (metal pole with hooks to hang feeders) also a baffle dome (like a plastic lampshade) placed half way up the pole so the squirrels can't get up but also have to place the pole away from launch pads for the squirrels lol. All works fine now and squirrels get nothing

    You can see mines in this pic to give you an idea. I also use a parasol base so I can easily move the feeding station around the garden

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • Ditto Linda,
    Try a dome protector (although NHBS have been out of stock on and off for a million years or so...).

  • I'll second Linda's suggestion, though our feeding station isn't on a flat base, its held in place by four spiked legs in the ground, and also with a lampshade to stop the squirrels getting to the feeders.

    But beware, those pesky squirrels are nifty and intelligent things, they will stop at nothing to try and get on those feeders, often being able to jump around 1.5 mtrs high and from something around 2 mtrs away, though I had one that managed almost a 3 mtr leap onto the feeding station!

    Tis link is a short video showing the squirrel leaping on to the feeding station

    This link shows the distance from the start point to the feeding station, look to the playhouse on the left and the squirrel climbs up it, takes aim and leaps!

    Even with the playhouse removed, they still try, so make sure your feeders are as clear of any squirrel baffle/lampshade as possible, as this short video shows, they will try...


    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • To echo others: get a dome. To reinforce what Mike B said: keep it as far from fences  and trees as you can.

    Anti Squirrel Dome - I got mine from Amazon. One of the cheapest.

    Metal pole - I used a metal clothes (wardrobe) hanging rail from a DIY chain; probably B&Q.

    Garden clothes dryer spike - I think I bought one from Amazon, but DIY chains have them

    This is mine, covered in starlings. I moved it twice. Originally it was 6 feet (1.8m) from a 1m high fence. Squirrels jumped the gap effortlessly.  Moved the feeder out a foot. Squirrels just made the leap. The feeder is now about 9' (2.5m) from the fence.

    An explanation about the Stalag fortifications. They were designed to keep Wood and Rock Pigeons off the feeder. Wood pigeons would stand on the dome and peck food out of my hanging feeders. The would land on the top feeder, shimmy down the supports, then empty the food in the top, flat in about 30 seconds. The fortifications allow in Jays, Magpies, Blackbirds, etc but keep the pigeons out. Thus food lasts a few days rather than half a minute or so.

    We have three GSW visiting. Two parents and a fledgling. I make bird seed towers - your basic bird seed cake mixture, but formed into a tower. My mixture is finely diced (3mm-5mm) lightly toasted bread (by toasting the bread you stop it from squishing up when dicing it) and standard song bird de-husked seeds - sans wheat if possible. The whole lot molded into shape using an old shampoo bottle, cut lengthways (but not all the way through) and opened out.  BTW Long Tail Tits love this mixture. They only feed in winter months.

    The GSW starts here

    It then shimmies down the vertical supports. It can feed from the top feeder at this point, if it chose.

    It then transfers to the bird seed tower - in a suet feeder.

    However, we have a stroppy, belligerent Starling, which took great exception to the GSW. They have many a ding-dong battle.


    In this instance, the GSW loses its balance; though in reality they are finely matched.

    GSW recovers its balance, and there is a truce.

  • Actually I’m lucky that in my area of North East England we do have Red Squirrels. But in my small urban area. I’m not keen on Grey Squirrels. Of course I hope you know that if anyone traps a Grey Squirrel in a humane way. It is illegal to release to keep or put into the wild any Grey Squirrel and Grey Squirrels have to culled in a humane way. The Red Squirrel is the complete opposite as the Red Squirrel has the strongest protection in the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. That is why I would love to have Red Squirrels on my Bird-Feeders. I’m lucky enough in the area that I live in North East England that I see Red Squirrels regularly every year. But I do put up with Grey Squirrels on my Bird-Feeders.



    Northumberland Red Squirrel Conservation! Also found widely in Cumbria!



  • I also have squirrels but luckily my squirrel proof feeder works for woodpeckers. I often get a great spotted woodpecker feeding from it. I’m using suet blocks