What Do Baby Woodpeckers Eat?

Last Updated on May 25, 2022 by Marco C.

Woodpeckers are some of the most well-known birds in the world, with many watchers wondering what do baby woodpeckers eat. These animals spend their entire lives in the woods, making holes in trees, and in today’s article – we’ll be pecking at the diet of the woodpecker and a few other things to learn exactly how they function.

What Do Baby Woodpeckers Eat?

Woodpecker chicks mostly eat insects, just like their parents, but their parents will catch the insects and regurgitate them into their baby’s mouths. It will take about 20 to 30 days for the chicks to grow enough and finally leave the nest, after which they’ll have to hunt their own insects.

After leaving the nest, a woodpecker baby will hunt and eat insects on its own.

Woodpecker Diet

Adult woodpeckers mostly eat insects that they find under the tree bark and inside the tree itself, but they’re a very opportunistic species and they’ll eat more or less anything they can digest. So, everything’s on the menu; ants, termites, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, bird eggs (not their own), small birds, small rodents, lizards – they’re not afraid of killing another animal to eat.

They’ll also eat fruits, berries, and nuts, but they prefer protein to fruit. Most woodpeckers will probe into the tree to find insects and worms, but some subspecies will fly into the air to catch insects.

Woodpecker Diet

Learn more about: What To Feed Woodpeckers &; Peckerwood Diet 101

Interestingly, their diet is just as important to the trees as it is to the woodpeckers themselves – they keep the trees healthy from insects and worms while eating them, and they’re taking care of tree infestations by doing this.

They eat insects and worms out of trees by poking a hole with their bill, after which they’ll stick their very long tongue into the tree. The tongue is barbed, so they catch insects with it and pull them into their mouth.

They’ll use this same method to get their tongues on tree sap, which is a common food with a few woodpecker subspecies.


You can mostly find woodpeckers in continental areas – they’re present all around the world, except for Antarctica, Madagascar, and Australasia. They’re primarily arboreal birds, which means that they’ll inhabit wooded habitats. They completely depend on forests when it comes to both food and breeding.

When it comes to subspecies diversity, they’re the most diverse in tropical rainforests.


They’re some of the most easily recognizable birds in the world, but that’s because of their behavior, not their description, and we’ll get to that later.

Some of the smallest subspecies are as small as 3 inches, while the largest woodpeckers are larger than 20 inches, with an extinct species being as large as 22 inches. Coloring is also different depending on the subspecies – some woodpeckers are entirely or almost entirely black, while others have distinct black, white, yellow, and red coloring.


Even though woodpeckers are mostly solitary animals, there are a few subspecies that live in groups. There are also subspecies that show extreme aggression to other specimens of their own kind (except for mating purposes). They’ll often settle near a stable source of food (an ant colony, for example) and they’ll defend that food source with their life.

Their most famous behavior is drumming against the wood – this is a form of communication with woodpeckers. There are different beats, lengths, and gaps between two drum rolls – all conveying different messages (calls that indicate territory, for example). You shouldn’t be surprised to hear a woodpecker drumming against a drain or the side of the house – they don’t confine themselves to drumming against trees only.

They’ll also drum against the tree to make a nest and to find food.

Nesting and Breeding

Every single species of the woodpecker nests in cavities made by pecking at the trees – these nests are usually far away from foliage to minimize the possibility of predators attacking the young.

Most woodpeckers are monogamous, even though there are a few polygamous subspecies, but that’s more rare. A pair of woodpeckers will build the nest together, incubate the eggs together and raise the young until they’re ready to leave the nest.

Male woodpeckers take on most of the nest excavation job and they mostly incubate the eggs during the night, while the mother incubates them during the day. They can have up to five eggs per brood – they will incubate the eggs for about two weeks before they actually hatch, and the young can spend up to a month in the nest before finally leaving.

Read more about: How to Build a Woodpecker Feeder?


What do you do if you find a baby woodpecker?

There are two possibilities - the bird isn't actually a baby and it's left the nest to live on its own - in that case, leave it alone. If it is actually a bird, then the nest must be very near - try to find it and, if possible, return the bird to the nest.

What do wild baby woodpeckers eat?

They mostly eat insects, just like their parents. Their parents will catch and swallow insects, only to regurgitate them into their children's mouths - baby birds need help swallowing and digesting food.

How long do baby woodpeckers stay in the nest?

A woodpecker baby will need 14 days to hatch from its egg, after which it can need up to 30 days to actually get out of the nest and live on its own.

To End

Woodpeckers are some of the most easily recognizable birds in the world, mostly because of the pecking technique that they use for feeding, nesting, and for communication. These birds mostly eat insects, which they’ll partially digest and regurgitate down their chicks’ throats.

Woodpeckers are common across the entire globe, barring Madagascar, Antarctica, and Australasia. They live exclusively in forests, as they need trees to find food and to nest. They use their strong bill to dig a large hole in the trunk of the tree, which they use as a nest.

They use the same technique to feed, finding food under the surface of the tree.

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