Attract Redbellied Woodpeckers

Red-bellied woodpeckers prefer wooded suburban habitats.

Red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) are found year-round in the eastern part of the United States and southern Canada, although they may migrate into the northern tier during the winter. Red-bellied woodpeckers have black and white zebra-like patterns covering their backs, wings and tail feathers, and red patches on their bellies. Males have bright red markings which extend from their beaks to the back of their necks. Females have grey crowns and red patches above their bills and at the nape of their necks. Attract red-bellied woodpeckers using food, a bird house or nesting box, dense and varied garden landscaping, water and dead trees.


1. Purchase woodpecker seed formulas, black oil sunflower seeds, beef suet logs or cakes, berries, grapes, cherries, peanuts, acorns, almonds, cashews and dehydrated insects, which are found at a pet supply store.

2. Pick the type of bird feeder that’s appropriate for the food you will be offering, such as a suet feeder, peanut feeder, tube feeder, tray feeder or platform feeder. Red-bellied woodpeckers are particularly attracted to feeders in the winter.

3. Arrange a suet feeder for beef suet logs and cakes, found at a meat market or birdseed store. Suet is a hard beef fat, typically from beef kidneys and is an essential source of fat for birds during the winter.

4. Prepare beef suet logs by cutting them into small chunks, melting them in a heavy pan over low heat, pouring the rendered suet into a container and placing it in your refrigerator to harden into a mold overnight.

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5. Set up a peanut feeder for peanuts, a tray or platform feeder for insects and fruits, and a tube feeder for seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds have soft shells and provide red-bellied woodpeckers with essential nutrients, such as oils, protein, vitamins and minerals.

6. Position cut-up pieces of orange slices or dabs of peanut butter around the feeder to attract them.

7. Mount a medium to large-sized bird house or build a nesting box in the middle of at least two to three trees and an ample amount of shade. Choosing an area with varying amounts of height and densities, including surrounding shrubs, increases the likelihood of attracting red-bellied woodpeckers.

8. Design a garden landscape that includes canopy trees, flowering or ornamental trees, evergreens, bushes, shrubs, hedges, grasses, and annual and perennial flowers. Creating areas with a diverse selection of nesting material and places for red-bellied woodpeckers to build their homes provides shelter and protection from predators.

9. Deposit an ample supply of clean water in a commercial bird bath, large saucer, pie tin, bucket suspended from a sturdy tree branch or garbage can lid turned upside down on top of the garbage can. Aluminum items or surfaces that resonates loud sounds attract red-bellied woodpeckers.

10. Arrange dead or fallen trees in safe areas to attract red-bellied woodpeckers. Removing them reduces places they use to build their homes.

11. Clean feeders between feedings by disposing of moldy food and rinsing with soap and water to prevent avian disease.