Attracting Woodpeckers to Your Yard: Tips for Food and Shelter

Woodpeckers are fascinating birds that can enhance the beauty and liveliness of your yard. To attract these lively creatures, it is important to provide them with suitable food and shelter. They have a fondness for suets, which are a mixture of fat, nuts, berries, or seeds, making them a great addition to your backyard feeders. Woodpeckers also enjoy certain types of bird seed, such as black oil sunflower, peanuts, oily nuts, cracked corn, dried berries, and fruits. They prefer platform or vertical feeders, as traditional style feeders may not be ideal for them. In addition to food, providing a woodpecker house can greatly attract them, as they are cavity nesters. Planting trees such as oak, pine, and fruit-producing trees further enhances their presence by providing them with nourishment and shelter. Moreover, some woodpeckers may even be attracted to nectar feeders. For the ultimate woodpecker-friendly landscape, consider leaving deadwood snags in your yard, as they serve as excellent nesting and foraging opportunities. With these tips, you can create a welcoming environment for woodpeckers to thrive and bring joy to your outdoor space.

Food for Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are fascinating birds that can bring vibrancy and excitement to your yard. To attract these feathered friends, it is important to provide them with their preferred food and shelter. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of food that woodpeckers enjoy, including suets and bird seed, as well as the best feeders to use. We will also delve into the importance of providing appropriate shelters, such as woodpecker houses and deadwood snags, to create a bird-friendly yard habitat.


Definition and Composition

Suets are a popular and highly nutritious food choice for woodpeckers. They are made by mixing fat with nuts, berries, or seeds. The high fat content in suets provides the necessary energy woodpeckers need to sustain their active lifestyles. Moreover, suets are an excellent source of protein, which is crucial for their overall health and well-being.

Favorite Ingredients for Woodpeckers

When it comes to suets, woodpeckers have their preferences. They are particularly fond of suets made with ingredients like peanuts, tree nuts, sunflower hearts, and dried fruits. These ingredients not only offer a delicious treat for woodpeckers but also provide them with essential nutrients. Incorporating these ingredients into your homemade suet recipes or selecting suets with these components will greatly increase your chances of attracting woodpeckers to your yard.

How to Make or Buy Suet for Woodpeckers

Making your own suet is a fun and rewarding way to cater to the specific dietary needs of woodpeckers. To create your homemade suet, start by melting pure beef fat or lard. Once melted, mix it with your woodpecker’s favorite ingredients, such as peanuts, raisins, or sunflower seeds. Pour the mixture into a container or mold and let it solidify. Voila! You have a custom-made suet that will undoubtedly entice woodpeckers to your yard.

If making suet from scratch is not your cup of tea, don’t worry! There are plenty of pre-made suets available for purchase. These suets are often specially formulated to meet the dietary needs of woodpeckers and may even include additional ingredients to promote their health. Look for suets labeled specifically for woodpeckers at your local garden center or bird supply store.

Bird Seed

Types of Bird Seed Preferred by Woodpeckers

In addition to suets, woodpeckers also enjoy feasting on certain types of bird seed. Their preferred bird seed choices include black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, other oily nuts, cracked corn, dried berries, and fruits. These high-energy seeds and nuts provide woodpeckers with the nutrition they require while satisfying their foraging instincts.

Feeding Suggestions and Tips

To attract woodpeckers to your yard using bird seed, it is essential to provide a variety of feeders that cater to their feeding preferences. Platform or vertical feeders are particularly suitable for woodpeckers due to their clinging abilities and unique feeding habits. Make sure to position the feeders in a quiet and easily accessible area, preferably near trees or shrubs where woodpeckers can find cover.

To ensure a constant supply of fresh and appealing bird seed, it is crucial to keep your feeders clean and regularly replenish the seed. Woodpeckers are discerning diners, and stale or moldy seed may deter them from visiting your yard. By offering a diverse selection of bird seed and maintaining clean feeders, you will have the pleasure of welcoming these delightful birds into your outdoor space.

Platform or Vertical Feeders

Benefits of Platform or Vertical Feeders for Woodpeckers

Platform or vertical feeders have proven to be highly effective in attracting woodpeckers to your yard. These feeders mimic the natural feeding habits of woodpeckers, allowing them to cling onto the surface while pecking away at their preferred food. This design offers stability and comfort, ensuring a pleasant dining experience for these amazing birds.

Moreover, platform or vertical feeders prevent potential waste and mess. Traditional style feeders might not be suitable for woodpeckers, as their feeding style may cause the seed to spill onto the ground. This not only attracts unwanted pests but also reduces the chances of woodpeckers returning to your feeders. By investing in platform or vertical feeders, you minimize waste and maximize the enjoyment of woodpecker sightings in your yard.

Suitable Designs and Placement

When selecting a platform or vertical feeder for woodpeckers, aim for designs with ample space and sturdy construction. Avoid feeders with narrow perches or small openings, as they may discourage woodpeckers from using them. Opt for feeders that can accommodate the size and feeding methods of woodpeckers comfortably.

Placement is equally important when it comes to these feeders. Set them up in quiet and peaceful areas, away from high foot traffic or noisy disturbances. Positioning the feeders near trees or shrubs provides woodpeckers with a sense of security and privacy while they indulge in their meals. Remember, a well-placed platform or vertical feeder can be a woodpecker magnet, inviting these fascinating creatures to your yard for hours of entertainment.

Nectar Feeders

Woodpeckers That May Be Attracted to Nectar

While nectar feeders are traditionally associated with hummingbirds, some woodpecker species also exhibit an affinity for this sweet treat. The sapsucker woodpecker, in particular, has been known to visit nectar feeders, usually during the nesting season when they require additional energy sources. By setting up nectar feeders in your yard, you may have the opportunity to observe these unique woodpeckers up close.

Tips for Setting Up a Nectar Feeder for Woodpeckers

To attract woodpeckers to your nectar feeder, it is crucial to provide the right type of nectar solution. Since woodpeckers have longer tongues compared to hummingbirds, a thicker nectar solution is recommended. Simply mix one-part sugar with four parts water to create a slightly stronger nectar mixture that appeals to woodpeckers.

When positioning your nectar feeder, make sure to place it in an area that is easily visible and accessible to woodpeckers. Consider placing it near natural food sources, such as trees or shrubs with sap, to attract woodpeckers’ attention. Regularly clean and refill your nectar feeder to ensure a fresh and tasty supply that woodpeckers cannot resist.

Shelter for Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers not only require food but also depend on suitable shelters for nesting and roosting. Providing them with the right kind of shelter encourages them to stay in your yard and increases their chances of successful breeding. Let’s explore the different options for creating a welcoming habitat for woodpeckers.

Woodpecker Houses

Benefits and Features of Woodpecker Houses

Woodpecker houses, also known as nest boxes, are specifically designed to meet the cavity-nesting requirements of woodpeckers. These houses offer a safe and secure space for woodpeckers to build their nests and raise their young. By installing woodpecker houses in your yard, you are providing a valuable resource for these cavity-dwelling birds and contributing to their population growth and conservation.

Woodpecker houses typically feature a small entrance hole that is just the right size for woodpeckers to enter and exit. The interior is spacious enough to accommodate their nesting activities, with a rough interior surface that aids in climbing. Additionally, some woodpecker houses come with removable panels for easy cleaning, ensuring a hygienic environment for these magnificent birds.

How to Select and Install a Woodpecker House

When selecting a woodpecker house, make sure to choose one that is suitable for the species of woodpeckers in your area. Different species have varying preferences for entrance hole sizes and interior dimensions. Researching the specific requirements of the woodpecker species in your region will help you make an informed decision and increase the chances of occupancy.

Installing a woodpecker house is relatively straightforward. Locate a sturdy tree or post, around 10 to 20 feet above the ground, where the woodpecker house can be securely mounted. Ensure that the entrance hole faces away from prevailing winds and direct sunlight. By providing a safe and cozy nesting site, you are not only attracting woodpeckers but also contributing to the conservation efforts of these remarkable birds.

Planting Trees

Tree Species Preferred by Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers rely heavily on trees for food and shelter. By planting tree species that are favored by woodpeckers, you can significantly enhance the attractiveness of your yard. Some tree species that woodpeckers particularly enjoy include oak, pine, and fruit-producing trees such as apple, cherry, or dogwood. These trees offer a varied food source and nesting opportunities, ensuring a sustainable ecosystem for woodpeckers.

Tips for Planting and Maintaining Trees for Woodpeckers

When planting trees for woodpeckers, ensure that they are suitable for your local climate and soil conditions. Choose healthy and disease-resistant saplings from reputable nurseries to give your trees the best chance of survival. Proper spacing and pruning will promote healthy growth and ensure enough space for woodpeckers to forage and build their nests.

To create an inviting habitat, establish a diverse range of tree species that provide food and shelter throughout the year. Trees that bear fruit or produce sap are especially attractive to woodpeckers, as they offer both sustenance and nesting materials. Regular maintenance, such as watering, fertilizing, and protecting your trees from pests, will ensure their long-term health and the continuous presence of woodpeckers in your yard.

Deadwood Snags

Importance of Deadwood Snags for Woodpeckers

Deadwood snags, or standing dead trees, play a vital role in the life cycle of woodpeckers. These snags provide nesting cavities, foraging sites, and perches for woodpeckers, making them an essential component of their habitat. Leaving deadwood snags in your yard not only benefits woodpeckers but also supports other wildlife, such as insects and small mammals, that depend on decaying wood for survival.

Creating and Maintaining Deadwood Snags in Your Yard

To create deadwood snags in your yard, you can consider retaining or preserving dead or dying trees. If a tree poses a safety risk or needs to be removed, leaving a portion of the trunk standing can mimic a natural deadwood snag. Ensure that the snag is stable and secure, regularly inspecting it for signs of decay or weakness.

While deadwood snags are essential, it is equally important to monitor them for any hazardous conditions such as leaning or falling branches. Regularly evaluate the safety of the snag and take appropriate measures, such as pruning or removing limbs, to reduce the risk of injury or property damage. By striking a balance between maintaining a safe environment and providing suitable habitats, you can create a haven that both woodpeckers and humans can enjoy.

Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard Habitat

Beyond specific foods and shelters, creating a bird-friendly yard habitat involves employing landscaping techniques that enrich the overall appeal of your outdoor space. By incorporating these techniques, you will not only attract woodpeckers but also encourage a diverse array of bird species to visit your yard.

Landscaping Techniques to Attract Woodpeckers

One effective landscaping technique is to plant a variety of native trees, shrubs, and flowers. Native plants have co-evolved with local bird populations, offering abundant food sources and suitable habitats. Including a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees provides year-round sustenance and shelter for woodpeckers.

Another technique is to create layers in your landscaping design. By incorporating different levels of vegetation, from groundcovers to tall trees, you provide woodpeckers with multiple foraging niches and nesting possibilities. Adding climbing vines or providing trellises can further enhance the vertical diversity in your yard, enticing woodpeckers with various habitats and feeding opportunities.

Avoiding Yard Hazards for Woodpeckers

While creating an inviting habitat is essential, it is equally crucial to minimize potential hazards for woodpeckers. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your yard, as these chemicals can harm woodpeckers and other birds. Additionally, keep domestic cats indoors or provide them with enclosed outdoor spaces to prevent them from preying on woodpeckers and their eggs.

In conclusion, attracting woodpeckers to your yard requires a harmonious combination of suitable food and shelter. By offering suets, bird seed, platform or vertical feeders, and nectar feeders, you will entice woodpeckers to stay and continually grace your yard with their presence. Additionally, providing woodpecker houses, planting preferred tree species, and maintaining deadwood snags will create a welcoming habitat for nesting and roosting. With a bird-friendly yard habitat that caters to their needs, woodpeckers will flourish, bringing joy and natural beauty to your outdoor space for years to come.

Nature Blog Network is the leading birding research and information website. Serving the birding community since 2010.

Recent Posts