What To Feed Woodpeckers – Peckerwood Diet 101

Last Updated on October 17, 2021 by Guillermina

Concerned about what to feed woodpeckers cresting around your house? Read our peckerwood diet guide for more info and tips!

Attracting woodpeckers to your garden isn’t impossible considering that woodpeckers live in the same range year-round. But, you have to understand that woodpeckers change their diet according to the changing seasons. Hence, when you ask any bird lovers, you’ll never get the same answer.

You see, woodpeckers alter their diet because they use whatever is readily available to fulfill their nutritional needs. In short, the answer to the question, ‘what to feed woodpeckers,’ let’s look into the eating habits of woodpeckers throughout the year. 

Depending upon the time of the year, woodpeckers will eat quite a few different things. Yet, a significant portion of their diet consists of insects. Naturally, there are many varied species of woodpeckers, but the most popular food that woodpeckers eat includes nuts, seeds, tree sap, berries and fruits, and flower nectar. 

So, without further ado, let’s get right to what to feed woodpeckers and what do woodpeckers like to eat in particular.

Are Woodpeckers Carnivores?

If you hear a woodpecker drumming on a tree in your backyard, you may think it is trying to hollow out nesting spots to breed. But, woodpeckers also use their strong bills on the lookout for food. Yes, woodpeckers indeed eat insects. But does that make them insectivorous?

 are woodpeckers carnivores

You can hardly call these birds insectivorous, as woodpeckers devour fruits and berries as well. In truth, woodpeckers are omnivores as they feed on a mixture of plants and animals. Woodpeckers eat what they can find. These winged creatures eat bugs like ants, caterpillars, spiders, termites, beetles, and larvae. They can excavate many insects and their grub from the trees they hollow out. 

Yet, woodpeckers also eat lizards, small rodents, and bird’s eggs. And, if you’re wondering, do woodpeckers eat baby birds? Well, wonder no more. Yes, woodpeckers happily gorge on nestlings of many other bird species. It would seem that woodpeckers particularly favor the members of the tit family, with marsh and willow tits being a general favorite treat. 

What To Feed Woodpeckers During Different Seasons?

It would seem that woodpeckers are pretty opportunistic. You see, these birds relish on tree sap during spring. The rich and sweet liquid is in abundance when trees are reawakening after winter. And, it is in spring that other foods may be scarce.

In summers, woodpeckers feast on insects that provide a protein level that the breeding birds and nestlings need. In fall, fruits and berries become the food of choice. And, during winters, woodpeckers rely on nuts and seeds to fill up their bellies. They even forage for nuts and seeds that most sturdy bushes and trees have to offer. 

Some species even hoard food away for the cold season when food options are limited. For example, acorn woodpeckers keep massive stashes of acorns in tree hollows that can be used when the season turns frigid. 

What To Feed Woodpeckers To Attract Them To Your Backyard?

No, you don’t have to feed woodpecker nestlings to attract them to your garden, as there are many food choices that are available to you to feed woodpeckers. You have to realize that woodpeckers aren’t carnivores, and they don’t hunt for prey. So, it’s not like these birds go out looking for nests to raid and baby birds to eat.

 do woodpeckers eat baby birds

Here’s a list of food that most woodpeckers will happily eat and will undoubtedly bring more woodpeckers into the neighborhood.

  • Suet is dense, hard, white beef fat that seems to be a preferred delicacy for most woodpeckers, mainly blends with insects, nuts, or fruits.
  • Peanuts – shelled or whole.
  • Seeds – sunflower seeds are a very popular choice, and they can be whole or hulled.
  • Fruits – Apples, oranges, or grapes
  • Mealworms – live or dried
  • Peanut butter or peanut butter blend rolled up with seeds.
  • Nectar
  • Jellies – especially marmalade, grape, or apple flavors

Read more about Why Aren’t Birds Coming To My Feeder – Set Up A Feeder The Right Way

Tips To Invite Woodpeckers To Your Garden

Moreover, there are several steps that you can take to increase the number of woodpeckers visiting your local area. You see, if you reduce the use of insecticides around your backyard, then that will consequently increase the population of bugs in the area; you naturally improve the chances of more woodpeckers coming to forage in your backyard. 

If you plant more berry bushes, chiefly those bushes that retain berries even in winter, then you are likely to have more woodpecker sightings. And, planting fruit trees, especially oranges and apples, in your backyard enhances the likelihood of attracting more woodpeckers to your garden.

Having trees such as oak or other nut-bearing trees in your garden will provide the food that most woodpeckers seem to appreciate. It will also provide a space for woodpeckers to nest. And, it also helps to add seed-bearing flowers to the backyard, especially if you want these drumming birds to come and visit your garden more often. 

Additionally, the types of bird feeders that you have in your garden play an instrumental role in attracting woodpeckers. Suet feeders should be securely anchored and provide ample support for woodpeckers to feed. 

Hopper or tray feeders can be used to present other kinds of foods, and these kinds of feeders are comfortable to perch upon for most woodpeckers. And, providing saucer-style nectar feeders is another effective way to bring more woodpeckers around. Yet, you can look up what to feed woodpeckers on the internet to get more information on the subject.

Conclusion

Woodpeckers are fascinating birds that are liked by bird lovers the world over. It seems that their ability to drum on trees is an intriguing sight. And, you’ll be amazed to know that woodpeckers use their jackhammer-like beaks not just to dig out bugs, but to make a home, to attract mates, and sometimes even for fun. So, many birders look up the internet to find out the best foods for woodpeckers to attract as many as they possibly can to their gardens. The good news is that woodpeckers are easy to please as they enjoy a variety of foods. And, hopefully, the article will help to equip you with, both naturally and through appropriate feeders, the means to draw more of these beautiful yet curious birds to your grounds.

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