Several species of birds, including crows, robins, cranes, and ducks, are omnivores, but what about woodpeckers? Are woodpeckers omnivores?
Woodpeckers come from the Picidae family and spend most of their lives searching for insects in tree trunks.
While they peck on tree bark to make their habitat or pull out insects or bugs to eat, their diet varies from species to species.
Many ornithologists and naturalists have confirmed that woodpeckers are omnivores. They can eat anything from insects, peanuts, nectar, and even beetles.
In this article, we will discuss woodpeckers, what they eat, how their eating habits affect their ecosystem, and more.
Are Woodpeckers Omnivores?
As mentioned above, yes, woodpeckers feed on both plants and animals.
However, it depends on which species of woodpeckers we are talking about since each has its own preference (more on this in the next section).
One reason why woodpeckers are usually omnivores is that some of them aren’t migratory birds. Since they stay in the wild most of the year, they get used to easily available food sources.
What Are the Food Sources of Woodpeckers?
You should know that woodpeckers have an extraordinary sense of smell, long and strong bills, and sticky tongues. This makes them powerful hunters.
What food woodpeckers eat depends on the species. For example,
ivory-billed woodpeckers from North America are omnivores, whereas pileated woodpeckers, who also hail from North America, are carnivores
Downy woodpeckers are herbivores by nature and prefer to eat plants. Rufous woodpeckers have an ant-only diet! Here are some of the common foods that most woodpeckers eat.
Insects and bugs
Most insects and bugs live in trees or wood, which is why woodpeckers peck on tree trunks.
Woodpeckers enjoy eating insects, including ants, grubs, beetles, insect larvae, and caterpillars.
Insects make for a high-protein diet that woodpeckers need, especially during the breeding season.
During the spring season, tree trunks do not have a lot of insects or bugs, and woodpeckers get their protein from tree saps instead.
However, some species of woodpeckers, including red-naped sapsuckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers, rely on tree saps throughout the year.
Nuts and fruits
Many woodpecker species enjoy eating fruits like apples, grapes, cherries, blackberries, oranges, blueberries, etc.
These birds occasionally enjoy fruit jelly of different flavors if bird lovers offer it to them.
Many also devour nuts and seeds of fruits, especially during the fall season. During fall, neither insects are available nor are the sap sweet enough for them.
Red-bellied woodpeckers are a perfect example of birds that love eating nuts, fruits, and seeds.
Other food sources
Apart from the above food sources, most woodpeckers eat peanut butter, black oil, sunflower seeds, nectar, suet, etc.
Some woodpecker species, such as the red-headed woodpeckers, also eat other birds’ eggs.
How is Their Diet Good for their Ecosystem?
Woodpeckers play an important part in keeping trees healthy and are ecologically important for the environment.
They extract grubs and wood-eating insects from the trees; woodpeckers work like pest control and keep the trees healthy.
One thing you should also know about woodpeckers is that while they peck on tree bark most of their lives, they do not damage the trees themselves. They prefer to make their nest cavities in dead trees instead.
How Can You Get Them to Come to Your Yard?
Due to the increasing deforestation and increasing human population, woodpeckers and other birds and animals are on the verge of losing many of their natural habitats.
While woodpeckers prefer to live in wooded areas, here are some ways you can attract them to your yard
The first step to attracting a woodpecker into your yard is to get an appropriate bird feeder. Ensure that it is anchored well and has a tail prop panel.
Some birders prefer a suet feeder, but any feeder would work if it has a considerably large hole that is at least four inches wide in diameter.
Since woodpeckers are omnivores, you can choose from a variety of food to attract them. Peanut butter, sunflower seeds, fruits, fruit jelly, mealworms, seeds, nectar, etc., would all work well.
Many woodpeckers also like sipping nectar from humming birds’ feeders. If you have bird feeders set up for hummingbirds, they might attract woodpeckers too.
Frequently asked questions
Do woodpeckers eat meat?
Do woodpeckers ever break their beaks?
Can woodpeckers wrap their tongues around their brains?
Are all birds omnivores?
We hope that this article answers your question regarding woodpeckers being omnivores. While there are more than 200 species of woodpeckers, and one cannot make a blanket statement, most of them are omnivores.