What Do Woodpeckers Eat

Mostly known for their continues drumming on wood, Woodpeckers are a very interesting family of birds that climb tree trunks to find insects and drums on dead wood to mark their territory.

With more than 180 species spread all over the world the woodpecker’s diet is bound to be versatile, We did our research and came up with a result that answers the question of what do woodpeckers eat. Here is a list of food that are safe for woodpeckers to consume:

  • Insects: ants, termites, beetles, caterpillars, spiders…etc.
  • Worms: Mealworms.
  • Fruits: grapes, oranges, apples, berries…etc.
  • Seeds: black oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, red milo, nyjer seed, safflower…etc.
  • Nuts: hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds…etc.
  • Butter: peanut butter, bark butter.
  • Suet: beef fat, nut and/or fruit mix.
  • Tree Sap.

The woodpecker’s diet is known to be very flexible and changes depending on certain things like food sources available, season and species.

primarily feasting on insects which helps them for breeding birds and growing hatchlings thanks to the high levels of protein that they provide. woodpeckers also like other types of food like sweet sap, seeds, nuts…etc.

Woodpecker Food Recipes

homemade Woodpecker Food​

Homemade woodpecker food can be a great resource in the winter since it can provide them with a healthy meal on the go and can become a great source of nutrient inn such a rough weather.

Recipe 1:

  • 4 parts melted fat (beef fat or lard).
  • 4 parts yellow cornmeal.
  • 2 part natural peanut butter.

Mix everything together and let cook for 5min to 7min, Once done grab a container and pour the cooked mixture in it. Leave it to freeze until everything becomes solid.

You can also pour the mixture into a hole off a tree log, That way you can also attract small insects which will then be eaten by the woodpecker as a bonus treat.

Recipe 2:

  • 1/3 cornmeal.
  • 1/3 crunchy peanut butter.
  • 1/3 lard.
  • Sunflower chips and raisins.

Start by putting everything in a stove and gently stir until everything is well mixed. After that pour  it into a container with a parchment paper in between to make it easier to pull off. Wait for everything to become frozen solid. Finally put it in a feeder and hang it outside.

Recipe 3:

  • 1 cup melted lard or beef suet.
  • 1 cup peanut butter.
  • 2 cups quick oats.
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour.
  • 1/3 cup sugar (optional).

Let a  pan heat up on a low fire while you melt lard and peanut butter together, Once done turn down the fire and add the remaining ingredients one by one while slowly stirring everything together.

Pour the mixture on a cookie sheet and spread it, put it to cool down in the refrigerator until the mixture is just hard. Done!

How Does Woodpecker Obtain Its Food

With over 200 different species of woodpeckers in the world. A large range of methods are being used by these birds to feed themselves. each designed to exploit available food. Some may look for food visually while others may dig for it.

When foraging, many woodpeckers start from base of a tree and slowly work their way up. As they do so, they keep their eyes and open constantly look into every hole for any hidden insects or insect eggs.

If a tree bark is particularly shaggy, The woodpecker may utilize another hunting method. Using their strong bills to flip over chunks of the bark to reveal any concealed bugs.

Trees, both living and dead usually host a huge amount of wood boring insects. Woodpeckers seek out the larvae of these insects, which often look like white chubby worms. By locating the worms’ entrance holes, woodpeckers know where to begin searching.

In addition, The woodpecker also like to rely on sound to locate prey by tap the trunk of a tree, they can tell if an insect is living inside by the rustling and chewing sounds that insects make in the wood. If the tree sounds solid, it moves on. But if the tree sounds hollow, the bird knows that bugs are emptying it out.

If the bird didn’t have much luck with his bug hunting, He will switch his attention to seeds, nuts or acorns that can be found either laying on the ground or in a field. If that doesn’t work he’ll turn to chowing down fruit.

How To Attract Woodpeckers

attracting a woodpecker to a tree

The key to attracting a woodpecker is to make sure to provide him with his basic needs for food, clean water and a secure shelter.

Woodpeckers are also known to be very shy and nervous when approaching new areas. So even after you do everything right to meet all their needs, it may take some time before you see any movement.

For you to do so, You have to make sure to create a nice environment for them to check, And here is what you should look into:


Like any other bird out there, The woodpecker will be more inclined to come near if there are some particular trees around. Having some oak and pine trees around will do the trick and will assure they have plenty of room to work with.


If you already have an area just for woodpeckers, Make sure to put a feeders up in it. You can use suet, seeds, insect and berries for food.

If you notice a particular feeder being used by other birds it would be best to set another one away from the first one since woodpeckers may avoid it.Your best bet would be to set it up near the trees where they are likely to take as homes.


Water is essential for birds, Especially in the summer where cold water is a big factor in where birds settle since they need to drink and bath to cool themselves. Having a bird bath in your garden will tremendously increase your chances of attraction a woodpecker.

Having a quiet area of your garden is also a big plus, put the bath on the ground and fill it with water, The closer to perches the better.

In the winter make sure your bird baths are heated. You can easily do that by getting yourself a bird bath heater.

Conclusion: what do woodpeckers eat

Woodpeckers are extremely shy when exploring to new areas so make sure to give them enough time for them to familiarize with their environment.

We hope you enjoyed our quick birding guide answering the question of what do woodpeckers eat. If you  have anything you would like to add that you think we forgot to mention make sure to leave a comment down below about it.