Can you think of anyone who doesn’t enjoy woodpeckers at their feeders?
These unique birds are fascinating and fun to watch. And did I mention that woodpeckers love coming to feeders?! Why wouldn’t they? They get an energy boost and easy meal, which helps provide the extra calories needed to survive a harsh winter.
So as you can imagine, owning a few quality woodpecker feeders is vital to any successful bird feeding station.
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 5 different types of woodpecker feeders.
Once you understand the different types of feeders available, it will be easier to determine the woodpecker feeder that is best for your backyard. Have no fear, in each section; I provide specific feeders for you to purchase.
But 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 suet. So if you want to attract woodpeckers, it’s my recommendation to buy lots of the stuff! Test different types and brands in your backyard to see what works best. (For the record, woodpeckers do eat more than just suet. Peanuts and sunflower are also popular options!)
The 5 Best Types of Woodpecker Feeders
#1: Suet Cake Baskets
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 as much luck with larger woodpeckers. My guess is that the suet basket is not big enough to fit them comfortably.
*Recommended Feeder: Stokes Select Woodpecker Feeder*
You can see my Stokes suet cage in action below by playing the video and looking at the top. A female Downy Woodpecker is greedily feeding on a delicious cake! View Price on Amazon
#2: Suet Cake Holders with Tail Prop
Woodpecker feeders that include a tail prop are probably my favorite!
Next time you observe a woodpecker feeding naturally on a tree, look at their entire body. You will notice that woodpeckers prefer three points of contact, which includes their two feet and TAIL!
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 your birds feel more at home while feeding.
I like that both of these feeders hold 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.
To see these woodpecker feeders in action, check out the live stream of my bird feeding station below!!! Most of the year, I have at least one of them hanging. Apologies if neither are currently not displayed. Typically, I take them down during the warm summer months due to melting suet. 🙁
#3: Suet Plug Woodpecker Feeders
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.
C&S Peanut Delight No-Melt Suet Dough Plug View Price on Amazon
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 naturally how woodpeckers feed.
I have not had the pleasure of trying out a suet plug feeder yet, but here are two options (seen in the picture above) that get many positive reviews.
- Log Jammer Hardwood Feeder (available on Amazon)
- Stovall Products Suet Plug Woodpecker Feeder (available on Amazon)
#4: Suet Ball Woodpecker Feeders
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)
Songbird Essentials Suet Ball Feeder View Price on Amazon
Feeders for small suet balls (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!).
C&S Woodpecker Suet Nuggets View Price on Amazon
Suet nuggets are used in two different feeders that I own.
- Woodlink Platform Bird Feeder: 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!
- Droll Yankees Metal Mesh Feeder: To individually feed woodpeckers, I put the suet nuggets (or peanuts) into this steel wire mesh feeder. There are no perches or trays attached, so the only birds that have access to the food are woodpeckers and other birds that can cling.
#5: Birdseed 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.
To attract woodpeckers, try to select a cylinder made out of suet dough or includes nuts!
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.
Woodpecker Feeder Buying Guide (Checklist)
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, plugs, 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:
- 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 woodpeckers.
Having a backyard that is regularly visited by many species of woodpeckers is a lot of fun! Luckily, it’s easy to get started today!
1. Check out each of the 5 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.
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!