Winter is a great opportunity to observe woodpeckers up close at your feeding station.
Woodpecker species may seem scarce in the summer, but they’re around, probably busy in the treetops searching the bark for delicious insects and bugs.
In colder weather, when the insects retreat and disappear, woodpeckers are on the hunt for other food sources. This means you can expect a significant uptick in woodpecker traffic.
Most woodpecker species (except for the Northern Flicker) live in the same range year-round. Adding woodpecker-friendly fare to your feeding stations provides more opportunities to observe their behaviors and gorgeous plumage.
Woodpeckers favorite foods
Luckily, woodpeckers enjoy many of the same foods that other colorful species enjoy. Look for birdseed blends that feature:
- Seeds, especially black-oil sunflower seeds and shelled, raw pumpkins seeds.
- Energy-dense peanuts and tree nuts (such as pistachios and pecans).
- Dried fruit, including cranberries, cherries, and raisins.
Hanging suet cakes in a suet feeder is also a great way to draw in woodpeckers. Suet that features peanuts or mealworms makes a tasty high-protein winter meal for these backyard friends.
Or if you’re in the DIY mood, here are a couple of homemade feeder options to attract woodpeckers.
Woodpecker feeding tips
Get a feeder with a tail prop
Most tube feeders, platform feeders, and hopper feeders work well for smaller woodpeckers. If you have larger woodpecker species in your neighborhood, such as the Pileated Woodpecker, look for a feeder that includes a tail prop. A tail prop is a flat solid piece at the bottom of the feeder, usually with a foothold carved into it. The woodpecker can then use their tail for extra balance and stability — similar to how they cling to the sides of trees.
Woodpeckers can be shy when humans are about (except for the Downy Woodpecker). If your feeding station is near a window, keep the noise and movement down to the absolute minimum to avoid startling the woodpeckers. Otherwise, setting up your avian snack station under the shelter of a tree provides a secure, welcoming place for woodpeckers.
Woodpecker watch list
Get to know these common backyard woodpecker species. How many live in your neighborhood?
- Downy Woodpecker
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Northern Flicker
- Acorn Woodpecker
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
When feeding woodpeckers, be sure to go with a high-energy blend that features their favorite snacks. Lyric's Woodpecker No Waste Mix has sunflower kernels, pistachios, and dried fruits that will almost certainly draw a crowd. We even removed the shells, so they'll leave none of the mess behind!