You may have noticed that woodpeckers live in your area, but you never see them coming to your feeder. Why is that? Read on to learn about the best types of feeders for woodpeckers, how to make a woodpecker feeder, and what foods will be most successful at attracting woodpeckers to your yard.
What You'll Learn Today
- What is the Best Type of Feeder for Woodpeckers?
- How Do You Make a Bird Feeder for Woodpeckers?
- What Can I Put Out For Woodpeckers to Eat?
- How Do You Attract Big Woodpeckers?
What is the Best Type of Feeder for Woodpeckers?
When it comes to feeding birds in your backyard, woodpeckers can be a little tricky. They are generally larger than other birds that eat from feeders, and their preference for eating while hanging vertically presents a unique challenge.
Standard bird feeders with dainty perches present too much of a challenge for most woodpeckers; if they have trouble landing and staying on the feeder, they will simply go elsewhere.
That said, there are a few types of feeders that work much better for attracting woodpeckers. These feeders include:
- Suet feeders: These types of feeders usually consist of a hanging cage for holding suet cakes, and they are one of the best types of woodpecker feeders. They are easy for woodpeckers to cling to and hang from, and suet is one of their favorite foods, so it’s a win-win situation.
- Vertical feeders: These feeders are typically long and narrow, with large areas on the sides for birds to latch onto. Woodpeckers like these types of feeders because the method for perching and eating is similar to how they would eat while hanging from the side of a tree.
- Platform feeders: Platform feeders usually have a dispenser that releases food onto a wide platform. This platform doubles as a wide, secure perch that woodpeckers can easily sit on while they eat.
How Do You Make a Bird Feeder for Woodpeckers?
The short answer is, there are many different ways to make a bird feeder that will work well for woodpeckers. Regardless of the type of feeder you make, there are a few basic steps you’ll want to follow to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Let’s discuss each step below.
Decide What Type of Feeder You Want to Make
One of the easiest DIY woodpecker feeders can be found in the video below:
Again, though, the possibilities are unlimited. Depending on what you have available or what you’re willing to buy, you might find it easiest to build a simple platform feeder out of a few basic pieces of wood.
You can also make suet feeders quite easily using a premade suet cage or some netting or chicken wire. Not to mention all the styles of vertical feeders you could create with a few simple items.
When making a woodpecker feeder, all you need to start with is a plan and a little creativity. Speaking of which:
Use a Plan or Create Your Own
It’s always easiest if you have an idea what you’re doing before you start. You’ll need to know what materials you’ll need and have a general idea of the overall process.
You might find it easier to follow someone else’s template. If you’re running short on your own ideas, check out YouTube for videos where you can find some good plans that walk you through the individual steps.
Or you could check out this plan for how to make a suet cake bird feeder.
To make a basic platform feeder, you could simply attach a flat wooden box to a tall post in the ground, or you could hang it from a tree with a chain.
Of course, if you’re the creative, crafty type, you can simply come up with your own plan. The idea is to plan ahead and know what you’re getting yourself into so you don’t waste time and materials later.
The sky really is the limit; you can use whatever you have available and be as creative as you want. Use objects like scrap wood, logs, chicken wire, old cans and bottles, netting, pinecones, baskets, pieces of bark, plastic plates, old milk cartons, etc.
Gather Your Materials
Once you have decided on a plan, make a list of the things you’re going to need and gather them all in one place. Some items that might be especially useful, depending on your plan, include:
- Pieces of wood
- Screws or nails
- Screwdriver or power drill
- Suet basket
- Chicken wire
- Hanging hardware
- Chain for hanging
- Measuring tape
Having everything in one place before you start will save tons of time and hassle once you actually start building your feeder.
And, as soon as you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to . . .
Build the Feeder
Again, since there are so many different ways you can do this, it’s impossible to give a step-by-step process that you can follow no matter what. Instead, you’ll need to follow your specific plan, whether using one you found online or creating your own.
It is important to think about whether or not you can do the building by yourself. Depending on the style, size, and skills needed to make your feeder, you might need to enlist the help of a friend or family member.
To build the simple platform feeder described above, follow the steps below:
- Cut your pieces to size: Start by cutting a square-foot piece of wood, then cut four pieces that are 11 inches long, 2 inches high, and 1 inch thick. You can then use these pieces to construct a flat wooden box for your platform.
If you have a pre-made wooden box you’re going to use, you can skip this step.
- Put the box together: Using wood glue, screws, or nails, place the 4 smaller pieces of wood on top of the platform around the perimeter. This will give it the flat box shape.
- Mark the spot for hanging or mounting: If you’re hanging the box, you’ll need a piece of chain coming from each corner. Mark the corners where the chain will attach to the box, making sure they are level.
If you’re mounting the box on top of a post, make a mark in the center of the box.
- Attach chains or mount the platform: Use screws or other hardware to secure the chain to each corner of the box. The chains should meet in the middle above the box, where you can attach a hook to hang the feeder in a tree.
If you’re mounting to a post, drill screws directly through the bottom of the box into the post.
Place the Feeder in Your Yard
Hang or mount your bird feeder from a tree where squirrels can’t reach or on a post in the middle of the yard. Ideally, the feeder should be close to other trees, food and water sources, nesting boxes, etc.
What Can I Put Out For Woodpeckers to Eat?
Now that you’ve made and set up your bird feeder, what kinds of food should you use to attract woodpeckers?
Woodpeckers will eat lots of different foods, including nuts, seeds, fruit, and insects. But if you really want a surefire way to attract these birds to your yard, there are a few foods that they seem to prefer above everything else.
- Suet: Suet is quite possibly a woodpecker’s favorite food. It is usually sold as a mix of fat from cow and pig internal organs, berries, nuts, and seeds.
Suet is a tasty treat that gives woodpeckers an extra shot of energy. It comes in different forms, from hard cakes to soft goo you can spread on your birdfeeder.
- Peanuts and peanut butter: Woodpeckers love oily nuts, and peanuts are one of their favorites. Put dollops of peanut butter or a few fresh peanuts on or in your feeder and watch the birds come flocking in.
- Sunflower seeds: Woodpeckers prefer black oil sunflower seeds in particular. While they don’t care for typical bird seed, they sunflower-based feeds–especially if they also have fruits and nuts.
How Do You Attract Big Woodpeckers?
According to Audubon, pileated woodpeckers are the largest species found in North America, but there are plenty of large woodpeckers found throughout the world. Giant, black, green, and imperial woodpeckers are just a few of the big birds you may hope to attract depending on where you live.
So, how do you get them to visit your yard? The same way you would attract any other type of woodpecker.
- Set up a birdhouse so they have nesting spots available. If you’re trying to attract larger woodpeckers, make sure the nesting boxes are large enough.
- Plant trees that offer food and nesting areas. Fruit trees, deciduous hardwoods, and conifers are some of their favorites.
- Offer a woodpecker-specific birdseed. As mentioned above, woodpeckers prefer types of feed with sunflowers, fruit and nuts in it.
Building a woodpecker feeder can be a fun DIY craft project. Just make sure you know ahead of time how you plan to do it, the materials you’ll need, and where you’re going to put it once you have it built.