If you want to attract woodpeckers to your garden, one way is to use a bird feeder. Woodpeckers love pecking to get to insects in the bark of trees, but they do need other food as well. A feeder not only provides them with essential food, but allows you to enjoy watching them as they eat.
Feeders can be a useful way of supplementing a bird’s diet, particularly at times of the year when their natural foods are scarce. Woodpeckers, for example, love suet and in winter when some foods are not available, this can be an important source to keep them healthy until spring.
There are different types of feeders and here we have picked out 5 of our favorites and why we think woodpeckers will love them.
- 1 Our 5 Recommended Woodpecker Feeders
- 2 Types of feeder
- 3 What to look for
- 4 What foods to put out
Our 5 Recommended Woodpecker Feeders
1. Birds Choice 2-Cake Hanging Suet Feeder
- Holds 2 suet cakes
- Lovely cedar wood design
- Front loading for ease of use
Woodpeckers love wood, so they’ll love the Birds Choice 2-Cake Hanging Suet Feeder. It’s made from high grade cedar wood but instead of pecking the wood, they’ll be pecking at the suet inside it.
It is easy to operate, as you just open the front of each cage and put the suet cake inside. You can buy suet cakes to fit and these often contain other foods such as seeds to attract the birds. There is a cage on each side of the feeder which each holds one suet cake, so it will hold 2 suet cakes altogether. Woodpeckers like to feel secure when feeding, so they can grip the mesh on the cage to hold on and there is a tail prop so the birds can feed comfortably for as long as they want.
The feeder is attached using an eye hook so it can hang from trees and it is easy to move to a different place.
2. Birds Choice 2-Cake Pileated Suet Feeder with Green Top
- Holds 2 suet cakes
- Made from recycled plastic
- Extra long tail prop
The Birds Choice 2-Cake Pileated Suet Feeder with Green Top is another popular feeder. It is made from recycled plastic so it is weatherproof and the woodpeckers won’t be tempted to peck holes in it. There is a mesh cage on each side of the feeder so there is room for birds to feed from both sides. The feeder will hold 2 suet cakes in total.
The woodpeckers will feel secure when they feed as they can easily grip the mesh cage, and there is a space underneath the cage for the woodpeckers to grip as well. There is a long tail prop which is ideal for all woodpeckers, including Pileated Woodpeckers.
The feeder is easy to set up and fill. The top comes open so you simply drop the suet cakes in side and it can be hung from any tree or pole and moved if you want to site it somewhere else.
3. Nature’s Way Bird Products CWF1 Cedar Suet Cake Feeder
- Holds 1 suet cake
- 5 year warranty
- Rust free
- Wire mesh basket
- Gripping skerfs
Nature’s Way Bird Products CWF1 Cedar Suet Cake Feeder is a good size and has been well planned for woodpeckers.
The lovely wooden design will attract woodpeckers and it has wire mesh on each side. It holds one suet cake and the woodpeckers can feed from both sides of the feeder. The woodpeckers will feel comfortable and secure as there are gripping skerfs on both sides, as well as an 8.5” long tail prop, so larger woodpeckers can feed too.
It is weather proof so it can be used all year round and it has rust free hardware so you can use it for many years. It is easy to fill as the top of the feeder is removable and the suet cake slides neatly inside.
4. Squirrel Buster Peanut Plus
- Squirrel proof
- For shelled peanuts
- Tail prop
- Easy to fill
The Squirrel Buster Peanut Plus is a great way to put peanuts out for woodpeckers, without squirrels being able to steal them. The feeder has a spring mechanism and if a squirrel gets on to the feeder, its weight will automatically close the shroud so they can’t get to the nuts. The feeder itself has also been designed so that squirrels cannot chew through it.
The feeder holds lots of peanuts for the woodpeckers to feed on. You can only fill it with shelled nuts, but the feeder holds plenty of them for the woodpeckers to enjoy. The design means the woodpeckers have plenty of places to grip on to and the feeder has a tail prop as well.
It is easy to put together and easy to fill, and it hangs from any branch or post.
5. Gray Bunny GB-6857 Premium Steel Sunflower Seed Feeder and Peanut Feeder
- Holds nuts and seeds
- Fully Assembled
- Easy to fill
- Galvanised steel mesh
The Gray Bunny GB-6857 Premium Steel Sunflower Seed Feeder and Peanut Feeder allows woodpeckers and other birds room to feed. It is 15” long so the woodpeckers have a long tail prop to rest on and the steel mesh gives them something to perch on to.
It is easy to fill from the top and it can hold peanuts, sunflower seeds and other nuts and seeds securely. The feeder holds up to 4 cups of food for the birds, so it provides much needed food when other foods are not available. The top is squirrel proof so they cannot remove it to steal the seeds and nuts inside.
The feeder is fully assembled so you just need to put the food in and hang it where the woodpeckers can find it.
Types of feeder
When feeding woodpeckers you may want to consider the season and what foods are naturally available. In the winter when certain foods are harder for the birds to obtain, then feeders can be a lifeline for them.
When setting up your feeder, remember to allow room around the outside to give the birds space to fly in and feed.
There are a few different types of feeder you can use.
These are designed to hold readymade ‘cakes’ of food.
- Suet cakes are very popular with woodpeckers, and these often contain fruits, seeds and nuts too. Woodpeckers can’t get enough of suet and in the winter it’s an important source of fat. The suet cakes are simply placed inside the feeder.
- Seedcakes are very similar and these contain a mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. They can be square and then placed inside the feeder, similar to suet cakes. Some seedcakes are round and these are hung using a circular feeder to hold the cakes in place.
Cake holders usually have a wire mesh which holds the cake securely. The woodpeckers can then perch on the feeder and feed through the gaps. Most cakes are square in shape, but some seedcakes can be round and will need a specific feeder.
Woodpeckers like all nuts, but peanuts are their favorite. Nut feeders are usually longer than cake holders and have a round wire mesh to hold the nuts in place. Some nut feeders are also suitable for seeds, and the feeder will say which foods it can hold.
These are simply filled with nuts and hung up where the woodpeckers will find them.
These are flat, square trays which are mounted on a pole or hung from a tree. The food is placed loose on the top and the woodpeckers can sit on the platform to feed.
The one disadvantage of these is that it can be easier for squirrels and other pests to get to the food on the platform. You may also find that food can drop to the ground and this can attract vermin to it.
What to look for
When looking for the right woodpecker feeder for your garden, there are a few things you need to consider before you buy.
- Tail prop: Woodpeckers like to feel safe and secure when they feed, so a tail prop is essential. Most feeders will include this but always check that it has room for the species you have in your garden. Some woodpeckers will need a longer tail prop than others.
- Gripping skerfs: If you’re getting a feeder for woodpeckers, they will also need somewhere to perch. Mesh cages provide them with somewhere to grip, but some feeders also have special skerfs where they can hold on to the feeder.
- Easy to fill: Topping up your feeder should be quick and easy. Most feeders either have a cage that lifts open or the top will lift up to allow you to fill it. You will need to be able to clean it thoroughly too so check to see how easy it is to do this before you buy it.
- Easy to get to food: The woodpeckers need to be able to get to the food without too much trouble. If they have room to perch safely this will help, and you need to make sure that the mesh is wide enough for them to get their beaks through. Allow room around the feeder when you hang it so that they have space to fly in to both sides of the feeder. If you place it too close to the trunk of a tree, they may only be able to feed from one side.
- Squirrels: Woodpeckers like suet, nuts and seeds – and so do squirrels. The last thing you want is to put food out for your woodpeckers only to find that squirrels have stolen it. Some feeders are better than others at preventing squirrels from accessing the food so if you think they may be a problem, make sure you buy one with squirrel protection built in. Be careful too that the material the feeder is made from is also squirrel proof. They have been known to chew their way in.
What foods to put out
In summer when there are plenty of insects around and lots of fruit on the trees, you may find you don’t need to put so much food out for woodpeckers. If you do put food out, particularly suet or peanut butter, always check it regularly in hot weather to make sure it’s not gone off or gone moldy.
There are many foods you can put out for woodpeckers, and these are just some of the ones you can buy to put in your feeders.
- Suet and suet cakes, either on its own or mixed with nuts and seeds
- Black sunflower seeds
- Seed cakes. These usually contain other foods too
- Peanuts, either shelled or unshelled
- Dried fruit as this lasts longer. You can put fresh fruit out but in warmer months this can go moldy.
If you have a hummingbird or oriole feeder, you may find woodpeckers trying to get to the jelly or nectar inside. If they do you can either add a wider feeding port for them or you can set them up with their own sugar water feeder in another part of the garden.
There is nothing more enjoyable than watching birds around your garden and woodpeckers are certainly active and very interesting. They are quite timid, so when you first put your feeder out they may not go anywhere near it. Don’t move it and you will soon find they come to investigate it and start to enjoy the foods you have put out for them.