Do Red-bellied Woodpeckers drink from hummingbird feeders?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are known to drink from hummingbird feeders. While hummingbirds are the most well-known birds that thrive on nectar, many other types of birds also have a sweet tooth and will happily visit nectar feeders. Red-bellied Woodpeckers, in particular, have been observed sipping from these feeders.

Nectar feeders are typically filled with a sugary solution that mimics the natural nectar found in flowers. This solution is attractive to birds that have a taste for sweetness. While woodpeckers are primarily known for their ability to drill into wood and extract insects, they also have a diverse diet that includes fruits, nuts, and even nectar.

I have personally witnessed Red-bellied Woodpeckers visiting hummingbird feeders in my backyard. These feeders are usually designed with small feeding ports that are suitable for the long, slender beaks of hummingbirds. However, woodpeckers have a different feeding mechanism, utilizing their strong bills to peck and probe for food.

Woodpeckers may approach the feeder differently than hummingbirds, often clinging to the side or bottom of the feeder and reaching in with their beaks to access the nectar. They may not be as nimble as hummingbirds, but they can still enjoy the sweet treat provided by the feeder.

It is important to note that woodpeckers may not be as frequent visitors to nectar feeders as hummingbirds. Their primary food source still consists of insects and other natural prey found in trees. However, during times of scarcity or when they are in need of an energy boost, they may turn to nectar feeders as a convenient food source.

In addition to Red-bellied Woodpeckers, other woodpecker species such as the Downy Woodpecker and the Northern Flicker have also been known to visit nectar feeders. These woodpeckers exhibit similar behavior, clinging to the feeder and using their bills to access the nectar.

To attract woodpeckers to your nectar feeder, consider placing it in a location that is easily visible and accessible to these birds. Providing a variety of food sources in your backyard, such as suet feeders and natural sources of insects, can also help attract woodpeckers.

While hummingbirds are the most commonly associated birds with nectar feeders, it is not uncommon for woodpeckers, including Red-bellied Woodpeckers, to also indulge in the sweet treat provided by these feeders. Observing woodpeckers at nectar feeders can be an exciting and unexpected sight, adding to the diversity of bird species that can be enjoyed in your backyard.