Are Pileated Woodpeckers Common at Feeders?

The birding experts respond to a backyard birder's question about how to attract the large pileated woodpecker to a feeder.

Do Pileated Woodpeckers Visit Feeders?

pileated woodpecker at suet feederCourtesy John Pizniur

Question: I have a pileated woodpecker that comes to my suet feeder daily. I’ve never seen a pileated woodpecker at a feeder before now. Is this common? —Elaine Eikenberry of Spring Lake, Michigan

Kenn and Kimberly: To have North America’s largest woodpecker visiting your feeders on a daily basis is very special, so congratulations! Generally speaking, pileated woodpeckers are wary and elusive, and in most places they do not make a habit of visiting bird feeders. In areas where they’re more abundant, these magnificent birds are gradually becoming more acclimated to the presence of humans, losing some of their wariness and becoming easier to see. A few have even discovered the benefits of bird feeders, but this is still an uncommon sight.

At nearly 2o inches, the pileated is the biggest woodpecker species in North America. It is mostly common in the southeastern United States. Pileated woodpeckers primarily eat insects. They have long barbed tongues designed for scooping bugs out of trees.

Check out the 4 best foods for attracting woodpeckers.

pileated woodpeckerCourtesy Mark Lindhult
Pileated woodpecker in a tree cavity

More Ways to Attract a Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated woodpeckers are usually found in mature woods, but they can be drawn to yards. They might roost or nest in dead or dying trees on your property, as well as empty nest boxes.

Read more: How to tell the difference between downy and hairy woodpeckers.

Each month, Birds & Blooms readers send in their burning questions to birding experts, Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman, who are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series

Got a bird question for Kenn and Kimberly? Submit your questions here! They may appear here or in a future issue of the magazine.

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Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman
Kenn and Kimberly are the official Birds & Blooms bird experts. They are the duo behind the Kaufman Field Guide series. They speak and lead bird trips all over the world. When they're not traveling, they enjoy watching birds and other wildlife in their Northwest Ohio backyard.