Most tell it’s fall by the change in the color of the leaves. My first hint of fall is the rising suet bill as consumption quadruples! Woodpeckers, from the giant Pileated to the tiny Pygmy Nuthatch line up literally at our three suet feeders from dawn to dusk. Filling the suet feeders a couple of times a day keeps Mr UPS busy delivering the needed cakes. You can make your own suet, pick it up sometimes for free from you local butcher but we go with the commercially produced cakes. They make the smallest mess especially in the heat of summer and don’t turn to a rock during the cold of winter. With seven species of woodpeckers at The Ranch, that’s a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of possible photographs to take and that’s the end goal.
I do take some photos of them actually eating the suet, that’s not why the suet goes out. It attacks the woodpeckers within range of the lens, I’ve gotta do the rest. Woodpeckers tend to land on the opposite side of the tree where they are going to feed. It’s that side of the tree / perch that I set up and focus on. That’s where the photographs are made. And most woodpeckers land on an adjoining tree / perch prior to coming into the suet feeder. The feeders are placed with this in mind as well. The interesting thing that has happened this fall Sharon & I didn’t see happening. There are times when each suet feeder will have six or more woodpeckers waiting their turn to feed. Then the Black-billed Magpies arrive. I call then “The Gang” as there might be upwards to twenty of them. They like the suet as well. Not that there are any fights but the interplay amongst them all is some great photo opps. It keeps me out shooting in the nippy air, it’s fall and its suet time!
Pileated Woodpecker captured by Z 9 / 800f5.6 AFS