How To Attract Woodpeckers?

how to attract woodpecker

Woodpeckers are beautiful, quirky little birds. I have tried many times to bring them into my garden and have failed repeatedly – they are quite picky about their environment.  I did some research and found the best way to attract woodpeckers to your garden!

You can attract woodpeckers by giving them access to clean water and a steady supply of nutritious and desired food. It is also good to provide them with shelter as these birds are shy and seek security in sheltered areas. It is also beneficial to add nesting sites.

Woodpeckers are timid and picky birds, so they can be quite hard to bring into your garden. However, once they are there, they tend to stay all year round! Take the time to find out how to attract them so that you can enjoy these gorgeous beauties throughout the year!

How To Attract Woodpeckers With Food? 6 Foods That Attract Woodpeckers

First and foremost, to attract woodpeckers, you need to give them their favorite food! Woodpeckers have quite a varied diet! They tend to eat insects, bugs, berries, tree sap, and nuts.

Some common favorite foods of the woodpecker:

  • Suet
  • Peanut butter
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Mealworms
  • Fruit: Oranges and Apples

The above list is a pretty broad range of food choices for a woodpecker. I would advise picking a few options, not only one, from the above list and putting it in your garden.

Different woodpeckers prefer different food. By increasing the variety of choices, you are more likely to bring more types of beautiful woodpeckers to your garden!

Common Woodpeckers And Their Diet

By selecting a particular food type, you can increase your chances of attracting specific woodpeckers.

Below you can find a list of 6 common Woodpeckers and what their ideal food choice is.

Type Of WoodpeckerWhat They Commonly Eat
Lewis’s WoodpeckerEat Insects off of trees
Red-Naped Sap Sucker WoodpeckerSap From Willow trees, but also eats sap from other trees
Red-Headed WoodpeckerSmall birds and small rodents, nuts, seeds, fruit
Red-Bellied WoodpeckerSuet, nuts
Northern Flicker WoodpeckerInsects on or close to the ground. Occasionally eats from feeders
Downy WoodpeckerEnjoys Suet feeders and an upside-down feeder

Feeders For Woodpeckers

Now that you know what their food favorites are. It’s important to consider how you are going to position their feeder.

The best and most effective way to position a feeder is upright. Placing a feeder upright ensures that you support a woodpecker’s most natural and comfortable way of eating.

You should also try to place your feeder by a tree. This will mimic their natural habitat, and they will be more inclined to visit your feeder because of this.

As mentioned earlier, woodpeckers are very shy birds and are startled by other birds or busy environments. Due to this, a woodpecker will enjoy eating from a feeder situated in a quiet and isolated area. 

Having some sunlight in the area is ideal as woodpeckers like to be vigilant, so dark spaces will intimidate and scare them off.

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How To Attract Woodpeckers With Grubs and Bugs?

A very effective technique for attracting woodpeckers is to leave any dead trees or plants around your feeders. Old trees and plants that are decaying will encourage various bugs and wood-boring grubs to gather.

These bugs and grubs will be an additional food source for your woodpeckers.

How To Attract Woodpeckers With Water?

Now that the food is all sorted, it’s essential that you provide your woodpeckers with a place to bathe and drink. Woodpecker’s love visiting standing water and will do so often if it is in the right place.

Firstly, you need to make sure you place your birdbath in an isolated and quiet area of your garden. If many other birds visit the birdbath, your woodpeckers will fly away very quickly!

Another important thing to consider is that woodpeckers are more inclined to bathe and drink from baths that are at ground level. It should also be fairly shallow, around 1,5 inches to 2 inches deep.

Attracting the woodpeckers to the bath can be quite a challenge if the water is at a complete standstill. Try placing a dripper or anything that creates movement in the water to grab their attention.

As if that’s not enough, these little guys can still be a bit intimated by a new bath. Adding perches for them to sit on can help them relax, and they will be more inclined to use the bath.

How To Attract Woodpeckers To Shelter?

The nature of a woodpecker is to stay out of sight of everything else. They are very skittish, so they love places of shelter where they can seek security.

The two types of trees that woodpeckers will enjoy are coniferous and deciduous trees. These not only provide them with shelter, but they are also a food source for the woodpeckers.

Woodpeckers commonly enjoy two types of trees:

  1. Oak Trees
  2. Pine Trees

The above two trees provide woodpeckers with a place to roost and are a food source.

Try your best to plant your trees as close together as possible to create a densely shaded area. If they are too far apart, a woodpecker will not feel secure enough. Adding shrubs amongst your trees also promotes a sense of security and can be a food source if they produce berries or nuts. 

A great idea is to place a roosting box close to their favorite vegetation. Roosting boxes are necessary for winter. I would advise placing them off the ground so that your woodpeckers are protected from predators.

Some woodpeckers will make use of dead trees as a place to roost, so leaving any dead trees in place can provide extra roosting space.

How To Attract Woodpeckers To Nesting Sites?

Adding a nesting site into your garden is necessary if you want your woodpeckers to hang around!

Woodpeckers will often nest in holes in dead trees but adding a nesting site is a good idea if you don’t have any dead trees, then.

Place the nesting site 10 to 20 feet above the ground so that your woodpeckers feel safe to breed! When creating the entrance hole, be aware of what size woodpecker you are attracting and adjust the size accordingly. 


In conclusion, providing your woodpeckers with the right food, shelter, water, and nesting sites will give you the best chance of bringing these beautiful birds into your garden. Take the time to see which woodpecker likes what food so that you can attract specific species!

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Donald Bergeson

I have always been fascinated by the skill, strength, and beauty of birds.They help in maintaining a balance of ecological environment. At Best Bird Guide, I share all of my experiences and discoveries that I have got so far and inspire more devoted fans.

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