What do Woodpeckers Eat?

What do Woodpeckers Eat

Woodpeckers are known for their distinctive behavior of pecking on trees but have you ever wondered what they actually eat. Generally, woodpeckers have a diverse diet that includes insects like beetles, ants, and termites, woodpeckers also consume fruits, nuts, seeds, and even small vertebrates like lizards or frogs.

But one interesting fact is that different species of woodpeckers may have preferences in their food choices.

For Example, the Hairy Woodpecker has been observed primarily eating insects found under bark while the Red-headed Woodpecker prefers a diet consisting mainly of nuts and seeds.

Here in this post, we will discuss what woodpeckers eat and how they get food. In addition, we will explore some of the challenges they face.

What do Woodpeckers Eat?

Join us in this section as we delve into the world of woodpecker cuisine and uncover the surprising array of delicacies that fill their beaks.


Fat from cattle, cows, and sheep has a special significance for these remarkable birds. It provides the energy and nutrients they need to sustain their high-energy lifestyle.

By offering suet feeders specifically designed for woodpeckers in your garden or outdoor space, you can attract these fascinating birds up close.


Woodpeckers have an insatiable appetite for bugs and insects along with ants to beetles. One insect that woodpeckers particularly enjoy is the carpenter ant. These smart birds can somehow detect the presence of carpenter ant nests within trees.

The parents tirelessly gather insects to nourish their hungry chicks, ensuring they receive all the nutrients necessary for growth and development. After about 30 days, the young woodpeckers leave the nest in search of food.


Peanuts, actually, are a fantastic lure for woodpeckers. Many woodpecker species, such as the Downy Woodpecker and the Red-bellied Woodpecker, will eagerly make their way to feeders filled with shelled peanuts.

There are so many peanut-based bird feeders available.

One effective strategy is to choose feeders made of wood, as they will easily blend into the natural surroundings and make it more appealing for woodpeckers. Peanut butter can be an excellent choice when it comes to filling your woodpecker feeder.


Woodpeckers are fascinating creatures with a unique love for seeds. Their beaks are perfectly designed to peck through the toughest tree barks. The most favorite food they eat is sunflower seeds.

Sunflower seeds contain high levels of protein, fat, and essential nutrients that woodpeckers need to sustain their energy levels.

So, spreading sunflower seeds in your backyard can serve as an attractive invitation for woodpeckers to visit regularly.


For these fruit-loving woodpeckers, tree fruits like apples, pears, and cherries are not just delicious treats but essential sources of energy and nutrients. If you have a passion for attracting these marvelous birds to your garden, then stocking up on certain fruits can be an excellent strategy.

It’s important to mention that installing bird feeders with fruit slices doesn’t just benefit woodpeckers; other avian visitors will be grateful too!


Woodpeckers have a particular affinity for trees that produce nectar. They extract this sugary substance from the sap by drilling small holes into the bark, creating what is known as sapsucker wells.

So, feeders with large feeding ports are important. Unlike other birds that can easily sip nectar from tiny ports, woodpeckers struggle with small openings.


The sap of the trees is not their top choice. These birds show a preference for tree juice or phloem sap when there are limited food sources available. By mixing the sap with other bird-friendly foods such as suet or peanut butter, bird enthusiasts can create an irresistible treat that will surely catch the attention of these beautiful birds.

What kind of Bird Feeder is best for Woodpeckers?

Bird feeder for wood peckers

Woodpeckers prefer window, tube, and suet feeders.

Window feeders: are specifically designed to be attached to windows, providing woodpeckers with a perfect view. These feeders are secured using a suction tube, making them compatible with woodpeckers.

Tube feeders: have feeding holes that allow birds to quickly access their food. However, woodpeckers require larger feeding holes to accommodate their needs.

Suet feeder: Suet feeders often feature metal cages or mesh holders that hold the suet cake securely while allowing easy access for the woodpecker to peck away.

Do Woodpeckers come to Bird Feeders?

Bird feeders can indeed attract woodpeckers if they offer suitable food options. These birds particularly enjoy peanuts, seeds, suet, and insects. To successfully entice woodpeckers to your feeder, make sure to provide these specific foods. Additionally, it is crucial to create an environment free from bully birds that may deter woodpeckers from approaching the feeder.

What do Woodpeckers eat in Gardens?

Woodpeckers have a taste for various foods found in gardens. One of their favorite garden treats is nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, peanuts, and acorns. In addition, woodpeckers also feed on fruits like apples, berries, and oranges when available.

In addition, it is possible to set up bird feeders in the garden using suet and peanuts. It is important to place the feeder in close proximity to your desired location to attract woodpeckers. It should be noted that woodpeckers also consume insects found on the trees and plants in the garden.

What do Woodpeckers eat in nature?

Woodpeckers in nature

Woodpeckers have a penchant for sap from plants. Sap is a sweet, nutrient-rich substance that oozes out of wounds on trees. Woodpeckers are also attracted to the nectars produced by different trees. They also eat ants, beetles, termites, and other creepy crawlies that hide beneath the surface.

Do Woodpeckers Eat Apples?

Woodpeckers have been observed occasionally feasting on fruits such as apples. Apples can be a valuable food source for woodpeckers during colder months when insect activity slows down. In addition to apples, berries, and cherries also rank high on the woodpecker’s menu. They also show a preference for other juicy delights such as oranges and grapes.

Do Woodpeckers eat Baby Birds?

what do woodpeckers eat?

Yes, woodpeckers are known to eat baby birds, including their brains. 

The preference for baby bird brains by woodpeckers can be seen as a survival strategy by woodpeckers. The chick’s brain contains essential nutrients that are highly beneficial for the woodpecker’s growth and development.

They have sharp bills, as you can see in the picture. They use the bill to drill into baby birds’ skulls.

Do Woodpeckers Eat Eggs?

The answer to this query is Yes, woodpeckers have been observed eating eggs. These resourceful birds have been observed poking and breaking eggshells when they stumble upon another bird’s nest.

If you are concerned about the safety of your bird’s nest and eggs, it is recommended to keep them at a distance to protect them from woodpeckers. The most effective approach would be to relocate the eggs indoors.

What types of seeds do Woodpeckers eat?

Sunflower seeds are the most common food source for these birds, they also have a fondness for cracked corn and apple seeds. Seed cakes are a delightful treat for woodpeckers, offering them not only sustenance but also a welcome burst of energy. These custom-made concoctions consist of an ingenious blend of suet, sunflower seeds, and nuts.

The suet provides the necessary fat to keep the woodpeckers warm during harsh winters.

What kind of nuts do Woodpeckers eat?

Woodpeckers have a diverse palate that includes peanuts, almonds, and various other nuts. However, their love for nuts doesn’t end there. Woodpeckers also have a particular fondness for tree nuts and beechnuts.

So, go ahead, and spread some nuts around the designated area nearby to attract these beautiful birds to your backyard.

What time of day do Woodpeckers feed?

Like many other birds, Woodpeckers have a set rhythm to their feeding habits that revolves around the morning and afternoon. By evening, they return to their nests with satisfied stomachs. 

These diligent birds begin their hunt early in the day, taking a brief pause during the afternoon before resuming their search for sustenance until nightfall. 

Interestingly, woodpeckers share a commonality with humans when it comes to sleep preferences. They find solace in the tranquility of the nighttime and choose to rest instead of actively seeking out food during those hours.

What do Pileated Woodpeckers eat in the winter?

Pileated woodpecker

During the winter months, Pileated Woodpeckers rely heavily on foraging for nuts, seeds, berries, and fruits to sustain themselves. These woodpeckers also have a taste for fruits if available.

During the winter months, when ant colonies are virtually undetectable, these resourceful birds turn to a different source of sustenance – suet! It is high in protein and provides an excellent energy boost for woodpeckers during the long winter days.

What do Woodpeckers eat during the winter in Minnesota?

In Minnesota fruits and flower buds become essential parts of their diet as they provide much-needed energy when insects are scarce. Of course, this depends on the availability of these foods. Suet is typically a food for woodpeckers of all seasons.

What do Woodpeckers eat in summer?

It is important to note that woodpeckers are breeding birds and therefore rely on food as a source of energy and protein for the development and sustenance of their hatchlings. 

As a result, during the summer months, they have a high insect intake to ensure an adequate protein supply for their bodies. Furthermore, if necessary, woodpeckers do not hesitate to consume the flesh or brain of smaller avian species.

What do Downy Woodpeckers eat at bird feeders?

Downy woodpeckers

These small but mighty birds have a diverse palate and will eagerly dine on a variety of foods to put you out for them in the bird feeder. Some of the notable food items that woodpeckers love to eat at bird feeders are suet, sunflower seeds, insects, peanuts, etc.

What Do Red-Headed Woodpeckers Eat Besides Bugs?

Red-headed woodpeckers are known for their diet primarily consisting of bugs and insects. These creatures have been observed to feast on suet, peanuts, seeds, berries, and even various fruits. Fruits apples oranges are on the top menu when available in birdfeeders especially.

What Do Spotted Woodpeckers Eat?

Spotted Woodpeckers certainly enjoy feasting on ants, beetles, and caterpillars, their diet is actually quite diverse. They are also fond of dining on nuts, seeds, berries, and even fruits found in forests or backyard gardens.

What Do Red-Bellied Woodpeckers Eat?

Red-bellied woodpeckers are fascinating creatures with a diverse diet that includes both plants and insects. They also have a fondness for plant buds and fruits such as acorn fruits and apples. 

Final Words

Woodpeckers are renowned for their stunning beauty in the natural world. For those who have a fondness for these avian wonders, it may be of interest to learn about what they eat.

It is worth noting that woodpeckers possess an adaptable palate, with their food choices primarily influenced by the time of year and their geographical surroundings.

To attract these creatures into your own backyard, consider placing a bird feeder filled with their preferred nourishment. We trust this information has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of what woodpeckers eat.

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