What Do Woodpeckers Eat? The Best Woodpecker Food

Attract woodpeckers to your yard with the best woodpecker food. Learn what woodpecker eat and the best birdseed and feeders for woodpeckers.

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downy woodpecker on suet feederCourtesy Laurie Stuchlik
Downy woodpecker on suet feeder

What Foods Do Woodpeckers Eat?

Snow, sleet and bitterly cold temperatures are no match for woodpeckers. Their can’t-miss black and white markings, with an occasional sprinkling of red, stand out as they acrobatically forage around bare tree trunks and brave the winter months. Find out what do woodpeckers eat, and offer the best woodpecker food at your feeders. Attract more woodpeckers with this simple yet satisfying menu.

1. Suet

suet cakesVia Chewy.com

Woodpeckers aren’t picky. You can make your own suet. Beef fat straight from the butcher will do; there’s no need to render it. Store-bought suet cakes get the job done, too. A basic suet cage feeder is inexpensive, and premade cakes slide right in for a perfect fit. Check out the best suet feeders for winter birds.

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2. Peanuts

peanutsVia Chewy.com

Shelled or unshelled, peanuts are a delicious snack that woodpeckers gobble up. You can find feeders made specifically for peanuts. Companies that sell nuts have jumped on the birding bandwagon and sell peanut feed that doesn’t make the cut for human consumption. Remember: Unsalted peanuts are best. Discover more backyard birds that eat peanuts.

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3. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

blackoilsunflowerseedVia Farmandfleet.com

Downy and hairy woodpeckers are particularly fond of this all-around favorite. Because woodpeckers are a bit bigger than the average songbird, you should serve sunflower seeds in a hopper or platform feeder to give them easy access. Check out the best sunflower seed bird feeders for your yard.

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4. Peanut Butter

what do woodpeckers eat, woodpecker food, peanut butterVia Walmart.com

Here’s an easy, no-fuss way to feed and attract woodpeckers: Simply smear peanut butter directly on tree trunks. Or buy a log feeder and fill the predrilled holes with the gooey, high-fat snack. Any regular brand of peanut butter that you have in the pantry will work, but avoid low-fat varieties.

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Woodpeckers Species to Watch For

Next, find out why woodpeckers peck and how to stop it.

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines at a time, and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds and attended various festivals, including the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, the Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, and the Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing, and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.