Jennifer Ann Richter
The Suet Thief
Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Not even a month into Project FeederWatch, and critters are already getting on my nerves! Not the birds, of course. They’re what the project’s all about. From November to April I count the avian visitors to my backyard habitat and record the results on the FeederWatch website. (By the way, this is the first year I’ve included a birdbath. I’ve also leveled up my shrubbery selection. Exciting times ahead!!!!)
I’ve also decided to go more suet-heavy, for a number of reasons. One, there’s a pine tree nearby that a lot of woodpeckers, nuthatches, and birds like that hang out, and I know for a fact that woodpeckers are really big suet fans. And two, I wouldn’t have to worry about squirrels shoveling out handfuls of suet and spilling it all over the place like they do with the seed at my other feeders.
So anyway, my suet cage had been empty for a few days, so yesterday I went and got some no-melt suet dough since the weather’s been kind of warm. I figured that way the suet would last longer. Well, okay. So I go to bed last night with the block of suet still there (a slow day in the habitat), and this morning I wake up to find the cage flipped up over the fence.
But here’s the thing. It wasn’t opened, and the wire I’d wrapped around the top for extra security…was still wrapped around the top!
So what in the world got to the suet and gobbled it up that fast with the cage still closed? I can’t image a bird—or even a couple of birds—pecking it clean in one night. And besides, weren't they sleeping? Okay, not owls, but I’m not sure they’re suet eaters. Plus, their flat faces and short beaks aren’t great for getting at stuff in small cages. No, I’m thinking more mammalian.
Squirrels would be my first guess, but they’re not your typical creatures of the night. Now raccoons—sure, they’ve got those creepy people-fingers that could easily reach in and scoop out all that suet. Never once have I seen a raccoon in my yard, but I guess it doesn’t mean they don’t visit. It was a full block of suet, and pretty thick, so I’d have to assume two of them did the raiding. Also, bears aren’t completely unknown in these parts, but if a bear had been the culprit I would’ve woken up to much more than a suet cage flung over the fence (if the fence was even still standing).
Of course, as is the case for bigfoot and most other mysterious sightings you hear about, I didn’t get any video. My excuse? Well, I'd taken my low-rent security camera down when I was rearranging some stuff a while back and never got around to re-installing it. The night vision is pretty poor, but I might’ve gotten something. It’s back up now, so next time the creature pulls off something like this again, I’ll get to expose him or her for the thief they are.
Let’s just hope it’s not a weird neighbor.
*Note added on 2/14/2022: The night vision doesn't work on my camera, but from all the evidence I've collected, I'm pretty sure it's squirrels working together.