Feeding Woodpecker Marrow Bones

Feeding Woodpecker Marrow Bones

by Dottie
(Tiverton Devon)

We are delighted to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker on our suet feeder in the garden. I hotfooted it to the local butcher for a Marrow Bone as my elderly uncle used to feed this to one he had in his walnut tree. The butcher looked at me in what can only be described as disbelief!!!

However duly went off to find me one taking great pains to tell me I was lucky as they don't usually have them???

I have wired it up to a bracket near to the suet feeder, however can you just assure me that I did not have to cook it? And that it will NOT harm him??

Also we have a pair of chaffinches in the garden that appear to have a problem with their feet?? They are what can only be described as a white thick coating. Is this a fungi will it harm them and what is it?


Feeding wild birds raw marrow bones in winter are fine. In fact the fat will help keep them warm, and you don't need to cook it at all. The only problem with feeding suet or fatty bones to birds in summer is that it can then go rancid due to the heat, but in the winter it is fine.

I guess you will have a very happy Woodpecker.

I had to smile when you noted that marrow bones are hard to find these days. As a treat from time to time, we would have boiled marrow bones on toast - loved them as a kid! But these days you can't find them in butcheries or supermarkets. You wonder where they are ending up!

With regards to the Chaffinch, it sounds as if it has Chaffinch Viral Papilloma, which only Chaffinches get. There is nothing you can do for them, and it is not life threatening nor terribly contagious to other Chaffinches, but caused when the foot has a scratch that allows the virus to enter.


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Jan 06, 2014
Woody & chaffinch Virus
by: Dottie

Thank you Kathryn, you are quite right about the virus. After I posted to you, I rang the RSPB.

We also get a house sparrow that is what we can only describe as Albino! Apparently this is not rare but no very common either it is called Leuakistic (think of Leaukamea).

So since we have moved here we have certainly seen more interesting things in the garden, by the way Woody hasn't spotted the bone yet but maybe it is because we have been working in the garden!!!

Thank you so much for your help and advice and one just has to wonder "Where do all the bones go?"!!!

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