Yesterday, I popped a suet cake into the feeder, and this morning, it is gone.
Generally it takes most of a week for the woodpeckers and squirrels and whatnot to wolf down a suet cake, so this is pretty extraordinary. And--here's the important bit--the little metal cage is still fastened.
Whatever has removed the suet has either opened and then re-latched the cage, or in a fit of staggering voraciousness, ate the entire thing in one night.
I am leaning towards the latter. The former would require the agency of thumbs, or with squirrels, multiple cohorts. It boggles the mind that someone in the sleepy middle-class suburb in which I dwell would stoop to theft that petty--and mushy and greasy and generally unpleasant. While I can believe many things of squirrels, and even more of raccoons, and can easily see them getting it open, I cannot imagine they would close the little cage up afterwards. Raccoons are stunning thieves, granted, and I have watched one crack its knuckles and twirl open a cooler lock with the professional calm of a safecracker, but it didn't bother to put the lid back on afterwards.
This leaves the possibility that at some point in the evening, a beast (or multiple beasts) leapt 'pon the suet cage and with hungry tongues, proceeded to lick a half-pound of rendered fat and seeds into oblivion. Possible? Certainly. Surprising? A bit, yes. Something out there is hungry.
Occasionally I wish I was in a different line of work--one that used night vision cameras, for example. I could not begin to justify the expense merely to satisfy my curiousity, but occasionally I do wonder what oddities I'd find if I was able to tape the goings-on at night.