From the tree to the suet feeder, back to the tree, on to the hopper feeder and then back to the tree. What in the world is that woodpecker doing? Most likely, it’s looking for dinner.
Woodpeckers are found across North America in dense and sparsely wooded areas as well as suburban yards with trees. The most common ones you will see in your yard are the Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.
Woodpeckers spend most of their waking hours looking for natural food sources like beetle larvae, spiders, ants and other insects. But in the winter some woodpeckers, such as the Red-bellied, also eat seeds and insects that they stashed away earlier in the year. Unfortunately, much of this food is eaten by other birds and critters that find it.
In contrast, Down and Hairy Woodpeckers rarely store winter food, relying instead on the ever diminishing supply of insects and bugs.
You can attract these tough-beaked birds to your feeding station with the right mix of fat and protein-rich foods like suet, peanuts and Bark Butter. Providing your woodpeckers and other backyard visitors with fresh, dry bird seed, suet and other high energy snacks along with open water is important to helping them survive the harshest of winter conditions.
Information provided Linda L. Thomas, owner, Wild Birds Unlimited, 213 Duff Ave., Ames, (515) 956-3145.