Woodpeckers are very hearty eaters whose diet varies depending on the season. They are known to eat several different things and the exact foods preferred by each species vary however some of the most popular food sources include:
- Insects such as wood boring beetles, carpenter ants, termites, grub
- Tree sap or insects trapped within or attracted to the sap
- Berries such as blueberries, mulberries, elderberries, strawberries, holly.
Woodpeckers are very adaptive creatures and will change their diets according to what food sources are most abundant. Sap is a popular food source in the spring when few other foods are available while insects are a primary meal during sprin and summer months. Feeding on insects provides the birds with a high level of protein which is great during breeding and when fed to growing hatchlings. Nuts, fruits, and seeds are more popular during the winter months as they are plentiful from natural harvesting. Some species of woodpeckers will even store up food supplies when scarce.
Woodpeckers do not only feast upon whatever they happen to find in trees or in the wild, they have also been known to visit backyards year round. The most popular foods found in many backyard feeders or consumed within backyards include:
- Peanut butter
- Meal worms
- Sunflower seeds
- Fruit blends
- Nut blends
- Pine seeds
- Cracked corn
If using suet feeders they should always be securely anchored and provide a tail prop panel or similar support on which the birds can feed. Hopper or tray feeders are most effective when offering the birds other types of foods. Whereas smaller woodpeckers such as the Downy Woodpecker may cling to a variety of cage feeders or dried up sunflower heads to feed directly from the plants. You may even catch one or two sneaking a few bites from the hummingbird feeders or other bird feeders.