When it comes to diet, woodpeckers are among the least picky eaters in the bird family. Able to either eat or drink their foods, they continually adjust their diets to take advantage of whatever is available in their neck of the woods. And they’re smart enough to store or hide foods so they can enjoy them later.
While their trademark tree-drilling is sometimes used to drill for sap or dislodge insects, it’s more often a means of communication signaling a territorial warning or quest for a mate.
Woodpeckers' favorite foods:
Grubs, spiders, ants, mealworms, and wood-boring bugs. Fun fact: half of a Pileated Woodpecker’s warm-weather diet may be comprised of ants.
This sweet treat often sustains the species in the spring when few other foods are available.
Peanuts and peanut butter are favorite finds for woodpeckers. Some woodpeckers stow away their nut harvests in tree crevices, under bark, or in ground holes for later consumption; for example, the Acorn Woodpecker typically hides hundreds of acorns each season.
Top choices include whole or hulled sunflower seeds, but they also enjoy seeds from other flowers such as violets, zinnias, marigolds, dandelions, daisies, and black-eyed Susans.
Berries, fruits, and juices
Favorite treats include oranges, grapes, and apples. Consider planting berry trees and bushes (e.g., chokecherry, hawthorn, or Rocky Mountain juniper) that offer woodpeckers fruit into the winter months.
They’ll sip from blossoms but also like bottled or homemade nectar made for orioles or hummingbirds — and they can sip from sturdily built feeders.
Especially if it’s firmly attached to a tree and stuffed with nuts, insects, or fruit.
They’re partial to grape, apple, or marmalade flavors.
Love the sound of woodpeckers in your neighborhood? Stock your feeder with Lyric Peanut Pieces to offer them a fat- and protein-packed treat. Note that hopper or tray feeders offer the most room for perching, though smaller species can cling to cage feeders.