6 Types of Woodpecker Feeders That Your Birds Will Love (2018)
Owning a few quality woodpecker feeders is vital to any successful backyard bird feeding station.
Seriously, can you think of anyone who doesn’t enjoy attracting woodpeckers to their feeders?
They are incredibly interesting, fun to watch, and come in all sizes. And woodpeckers love coming to feeders too! They get an energy boost and easy meal, which can provide the extra calories needed to survive a harsh winter.
Unfortunately, finding and shopping for the best woodpecker bird feeders can be confusing and time-consuming. There are many different styles and specifications to consider.
Today, I am going to share 6 different types of bird feeders that attract a wide variety of woodpecker species (and other birds too!).
Quick Links – The Best Woodpecker Feeders
The 6 Types of Woodpecker Bird Feeders (2018)
Related Article: The 14 Best Bird Feeders For Your Backyard (2018)
Before we crash headfirst (*woodpecker pun*) into specific feeders, let’s address a common question:
What is the best food to attract woodpeckers to your bird feeders?
In nature, woodpeckers are opportunistic eaters and dine on a wide variety of foods including acorns, insects, nuts, fruit, and sap. Unfortunately, most of these foods are not practical to offer at feeders.
Don’t worry! There is a food that woodpeckers love that is commercially available, inexpensive, and reliably attracts almost every species of woodpecker to your feeders.
This magic food is called suet.
My guess is you already know about suet. It has long been a favorite food to offer to backyard birds. Woodpeckers love the stuff, along with chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals and many more!
Suet is rendered animal fat that is generally mixed with nuts, corn, or berries. It’s molded into either cakes, balls, or plugs.
All of the different types of woodpecker feeders listed below use some kind of suet. So if you want to attract woodpeckers, it’s my recommendation to buy lots of the stuff! Test different types and brands of suet in your backyard to see what works best.
The 6 Best Types of Woodpecker Feeders
#1: Suet Cake Basket
Using a simple basket design is the most inexpensive way to start feeding woodpeckers today.
There is nothing complicated about these feeders. It’s just a square metal cage that fits a suet cake perfectly. Many hopper style feeders even have suet cake baskets attached to the sides to offer a place for woodpeckers to feed.
The main reason these simple woodpecker feeders are so popular is that they work. In my experience, my suet cake basket is perfect for smaller birds, such as the Downy Woodpecker. I have not had much luck with larger woodpeckers, such as the Red-bellied, Hairy, or Pileated. My guess is that the suet basket is not big enough to fit them comfortably.
Recommended Feeder: Stokes Select Double Suet Bird Feeder
For only a few dollars more than a single suet cake feeder, you can purchase a double suet cake basket that is made by Stokes.
I like the fact that I can test two different types of suet cakes at the same time. This testing helps me learn what my local woodpeckers prefer!
#2: Suet Cake Holder with Tail Prop
Suet feeders that include a tail prop are my favorite woodpecker feeders!
Next time you observe a woodpecker feeding naturally on a tree, look at his entire body. You will notice that woodpeckers prefer three points of contact, which includes their two feet and TAIL!
Yes, woodpeckers prefer to have their tail securely pressed against something solid when they start banging their head on a tree. So a feeder with a tail prop should make the birds feel much more at home while feeding.
Recommended Feeder: Birds Choice 2-Cake Woodpecker Suet Feeder
The above suet feeder (Birds Choice) is my favorite choice for woodpeckers in my backyard for a few reasons.
First, I like that it holds two suet cakes because I don’t have to refill the feeder as often AND I can test different suet cakes against each other to find the birds favorites. It’s hard to argue with the results of what the woodpeckers like best when both suet cakes are next to each other.
This Birds Choice woodpecker feeder also features an EXTRA LONG tail prop. This is important to me for one reason:
These large woodpeckers reside in much of the United States and Canada. They are amazing to see and always make me stop what I’m doing to watch them. But even though they are large, they are shy and take a while to feel safe enough to come down to your feeders.
But if you want to attract a Pileated Woodpecker to your backyard, you need a suet feeder they feel comfortable using. That is why you would need a feeder that includes a long tail prop to fit their large bodies and long tails.
#3: Suet Plug Woodpecker Feeder
Hanging a woodpecker feeder that holds suet plugs gives your backyard a unique and more natural look. Most suet plug feeders look like a log that hangs down vertically with a few holes drilled into the sides.
What exactly are suet plugs?
Instead of forming the suet into a square cake design, the suet is shaped into a short, circular roll that looks much like a plug. Just think of the shape of a Twinkie.
These plugs are then shoved into the holes that are drilled into the sides of the suet plug feeders.
Since there are no mesh cages to stick their beaks through, a suet plug feeder gives access to all birds that can cling to the side of the vertical log. It also mimics very naturally how woodpeckers feed.
- Log Jammer Hardwood Feeder (available at Duncraft.com)
- Stovall Products Suet Plug Woodpecker Feeder (available at Amazon)
Don’t forget to purchase suet plugs! Your square suet cakes won’t work!
#4: Suet Ball Woodpecker Feeder
So far we have gone over woodpecker feeders that use suet cakes or suet plugs, but another popular way to feed woodpeckers is to utilize suet balls.
Suet balls are what you think – the suet and other ingredients are formed into different size balls for the birds.
In general, there are two different sizes of suet balls (large and small) and each size requires a different type of woodpecker feeder.
Feeders for large suet balls:
To feed your woodpeckers large suet balls, make sure that the feeder has lots of space between the mesh or wires. It should comfortably hold a few suet balls and provide lots of easy access for the birds. (See picture below)
Feeders for small suet balls (suet nuggets):
Personally, my preference is to use suet nuggets at my feeding station instead of large suet balls. They are easy to handle and make fun treats for many species of birds (not just woodpeckers!).
Suet nuggets are used in two different feeders that I own. If I want to feed a variety of species, then I just throw the nuggets on my platform feeder. They get gobbled up very quickly!
To individually feed woodpeckers, I put the suet nuggets into my Droll Yankees steel wire mesh feeder. There are no perches or trays attached, so the only birds that have access to the suet nuggets are woodpeckers and other birds that can cling. (This feeder also works well with shelled peanuts.)
#5: Suet Cylinder Feeder
If you don’t have experience using seed cylinders in your backyard, just think of a mass of bird food that was shaped into a specific shape (usually a cylinder) using a natural binder. Normally a hole is drilled through the middle so the cylinders can be hung from a rod.
Here are a few of the advantages to using bird seed cylinders in your backyard:
- They tend to last longer than loose birdseed. This is because all the seed is held together securely by gelatin and birds can’t kick anything to the ground.
- Birds also tend to stay longer on seed cylinders than a traditional feeder. Once again, it’s because of the gelatin that holds everything together. It takes birds longer to get every seed.
- They are convenient! One cylinder could theoretically have every major food group (mealworms, fats, berries, seeds, and nuts).
Bird cylinders can also be shaped into any number of animals, characters, or designs! They make fun Christmas gifts too.
Many years ago, Jim Carpenter (the founder of Wild Birds Unlimited) developed his own suet pudding recipe. His secret recipe combines suet, cornmeal, and peanut butter. He called it Jim’s Birdacious® Bark Butter®
It comes in a tub and has the consistency of cookie dough. Most birders use a fork to spread this directly to the side of a tree, but WBU also sells feeders designed explicitly for their Bark Butter products.
By spreading the Bark Butter directly onto a tree, woodpeckers are going to have easy access to the suet and be able to feed in a very natural position. The birds should feed more comfortably because they don’t have to worry about flying onto a humanmade feeder.
If you only want to feed woodpeckers, there is one big problem with Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter. Lots of other bird species love the stuff too! According to WBU, their Bark Butter has attracted 143 different species (and counting), including many that don’t typically come to your feeders.
Woodpecker Feeder Checklist and Buying Guide
While you are shopping for the best woodpecker feeders for your backyard, I thought it would be helpful to have a comprehensive checklist of features and things to watch for.
Just to be clear, there are no woodpecker feeders that are perfect and hit every item on this checklist. Think of this list as a shopping guide to compare different feeders and to make sure you don’t miss a feature that is important to YOU.
- As with most products, typically the more you pay, the longer it will last.
- The amount of food the feeder can hold:
- Whether that be suet cakes, suet plugs, suet balls, peanuts, etc.
- The suet or food is protected from rain and snow:
- Easy to fill:
- You will appreciate an easy to fill feeder in the winter or rain!
- Easy to clean:
- Easy to hang:
- Birds can access the food easily and comfortably:
- Food is visible from a distance:
- Tail Prop:
- Remember that woodpeckers naturally enjoy feeding with their tail pressed securely against a tree.
- Manufactured by a reputable company (Preferably made in the USA):
- Durable and sturdy (made of high-quality materials):
- We all want our feeders to last a long time and not fade, break, or have squirrels chew on them!
- Size of the woodpecker feeder:
- This is especially important if you are trying to attract large birds, such as the Pileated Woodpecker.
Conclusion – The 6 Types of Woodpecker Feeders Your Birds Will Love
1. Check out each of the 6 different styles of woodpecker feeders to see what you like best.
2. Before purchasing a new woodpecker feeder, review the above checklist to make sure you do not forget something.
Thanks for making it this far! But now I have a favor to ask; if you found this article valuable, please consider doing one of the following three things:
1. If you purchase any of the woodpecker feeders listed above, please use the links found in the article. At no cost to you, I would receive a small percentage of the sale. This lets me know that you found this content helpful and covers the costs to run Bird Watching HQ. I would be forever grateful. 🙂
2. Share this article! I don’t care what social network you prefer, pass it around! (Check out the share buttons on the left-hand side of the screen.)
3. Use the comments below to keep the conversation going. I would love to hear your thoughts and responses:
- What are your best tips for attracting woodpeckers?
- What is your favorite woodpecker bird feeder?
- Is suet the best food to use for woodpeckers?
Thanks again for reading. Happy birding!