Woodpecker Pecking At A Tree
(Image credit: Volodymyr Kucherenko)

There are many reasons to attract woodpeckers in the garden, and birds in general. A well-planned garden can attract and keep most native birds. If woodpeckers are your favorites, careful consideration of food, nesting sites, water, and safe cover will help you create a woodpecker, bird-friendly space.

Gardening for Birds and Attracting Woodpeckers

A bird-friendly garden can help promote a healthy, local ecosystem. Birds are essential elements of the environment and having them in your garden will keep it healthy and whole. You may also want to attract birds simply because you enjoy hearing and watching them.

Among the most interesting and colorful you may find in the garden are woodpeckers. Enticing them into the yard isn’t that difficult either. So, what attracts woodpeckers to your yard?

How to Attract Woodpeckers to the Garden

There are three major things that will attract woodpeckers to your yard: good places to nest and take cover, water supply, and the right foods. If you provide these three factors, with a woodpecker’s specific needs in mind, you’ll find they won’t be able to resist your garden.

Below are some specific ideas for attracting woodpeckers:

  • Start with trees. Woodpeckers like pine trees for the tasty sap and pine nuts, as well as cover and shelter. Oak trees will also encourage woodpeckers, as they enjoy eating acorns. Include dead trees too. Woodpeckers nest in snags, dead trees, and stumps. They hollow out the rotting wood. If you have a dead tree in the garden, trim it down so that it is safe and won’t take out your home if it falls. Then let woodpeckers and other species take over.
  • Build nest boxes. If you don’t have any dead trees for snags, you can build and hang nest boxes, about 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) high.
  • Provide suet. Woodpeckers love suet, so place a few of these feeders strategically in your garden. Put out feeders with nuts and seeds, as woodpeckers enjoy these too. Fill feeders with peanuts and sunflower oilers in particular. A platform feeder with plenty of room for perching is especially good for woodpeckers and for viewing them.
  • Get a hummingbird feeder with large ports. Hummingbirds are not the only birds that like nectar. Woodpeckers will be attracted to these feeders too. Try one that has large enough ports for a woodpecker and an area to perch.
  • Offer water. Like all birds, woodpeckers need standing water for drinking and bathing. They prefer something natural and isolated, so create a ground-level bath in a corner of the garden.
Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.