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How to Attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers to your Yard?

Red-bellied woodpeckers are one of the most common sightings in North America, and they are a desired bird for many people. This post will equip you with everything you should know on how to attract red-bellied woodpeckers to your yard!

This informative blog post is going to go over: How to identify the red-bellied woodpecker? What attracts them? How you can attract them? And finally, suggestions on how and what types of feeder set up you should use.

How to Attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers to your Yard?


The adult Red-bellied woodpecker is a medium-sized bird, that has a reddish head, and white face. It has black and white barring throughout its back, and it is mostly white underneath with a reddish hue on the belly. It has a long black bill with a red cere.

  • Length: 9.0-9.4 in (22.9-24.1 cm)
  • Weight: 1.9-3.2 oz (55-91.5 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.6-16.9 in (32-43 cm)

Distribution Range

The range of this species stretches from southern Ontario and Quebec southward through eastern North America into Mexico’s northernmost states; northwards through the southeastern United States (southern Arkansas), then westwards to central Texas. They are also seen in Northern Mexico, as well as south to Costa Rica and Panama in Central America.

Main Habitat

They are mainly found in forested areas, especially near streams and woodlands. The Red-bellied Woodpecker’s preferred habitat is deciduous forests with an abundance of dead trees for nesting.​​​​​​​ By habitat, they can be found around a lot of tree types such as: oak trees, redwood trees, pine trees and many more.

Attracting them with a Bird Feeder

Woodpeckers are a delight to watch and hear as they tap on trees looking for insects. But, how do you attract them to your bird feeder? There are a few things that can be done to increase the likelihood of woodpeckers coming around.

If you’re looking to attract the red-bellied woodpecker with a bird feeder, then here are some tips to help get you started. The products linked below are available on Amazon.

  • Find an appropriate feeder that is sturdy and has wide openings for easy access by the woodpecker. Place it on a tree or pole where they can easily find it.
  • Hanging your feeder at different heights can attract different types of birds. The best height for a woodpecker feeder is 5-10 feet off the ground.
  • Make sure to use a seed mix that has black oil sunflower seeds and peanuts. This will attract many other birds as well, but these two types are what red-bellied woodpeckers like best.
  • Put up a suet feeder, and use peanut butter suet cakes. Suet is an ideal meal for insectivorous birds like woodpeckers. It’s high in fat content, which these types of birds need.
  • Offer them apples, oranges, cherries, grapes, berries, peanut butter, cashews, almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, acorns, black-oil sunflower seeds, suet or even dehydrated insects on a platform feeder.
  • Place a bird feeder near a tree and hang it from the branches. This will help keep cats away from the feeder and give woodpeckers something to explore while they eat
  • Hang or place bird feeders close together, so the woodpecker can easily fly from one feeder to another without landing.
  • Put out nuts or pine cones for them to eat in the winter. They will also enjoy peanut butter smeared on tree bark, whole kernel corn on the cob, and oats during colder months. Offer fresh water as well.

Best Spots for Bird Feeders

1) Provide an area where they can get food without too much competition from other birds. This means not putting your feeder in the middle of many others or in areas with lots of vegetation near it, such as the tops of trees. You also want to make sure that the feeder is not in an area where it will be easily tipped over by animals, or children. I like to place bird feeders in an area with dense trees and lots of brush. 

2) Red-bellied Woodpeckers have an innate attraction to wood and because of this they are often attracted to bird feeders placed outside on wooden surfaces such as decks and treehouses. In order for them to continue coming back, you should avoid having your feeder near other bird feeders, so there is more food available for them without competing with other species.

3) Be sure to leave enough room around the feeder, so they can hop up and down from the deck, treehouse or perch in order to reach it easily.

4) Also, be sure that you clean your feeders regularly, as woodpeckers can carry diseases such as Salmonella on their bills and feet, which could harm other birds in proximity to them.

Provide them with a Birdbath

There are many ways to attract woodpeckers, and one of the easiest is by providing a birdbath. Woodpeckers have long tongues that they use to drink water from ponds or streams. They also eat insects that live in water, so they often need access to fresh drinking water on their hunting grounds. One way you can help them out is by installing a birdbath near your favorite spot for these birds.​​​​​​​

If you’re searching for a birdbath, one popular model is the Alpine Birdbath. You can pick it up on Amazon.

Birdbath Tips

1) Plant some flowers near the birdbath – I’ve found that attracting hummingbirds with plants such as columbine, fuchsia, or honeysuckle will also attract red-bellied woodpeckers.

2) Place branches over the birdbath – Birds love tree bark and perching on it for safety while they drink.

3) Place your birdbath near natural sources of food, such as trees with fruit and bushes with berries.

4) Place the bath in an open area where it will be exposed to sunlight for most of the day.

5) Choose one that is large enough for these birds.

6) Add a few pebbles in the bottom of the bath to create different depths of water.

7) Fill the bath with fresh water every other day and replace any food that falls into it as well.

8) Woodpeckers will visit a birdbath if they see food like fruit slices or seeds for them. You can also offer them mealworms.

* A homemade birdbath solution can be made with a tin pie plate or a small wading pool, some rocks, gravel and then filling it up with water.

Provide them with a Nesting Box

The red-bellied woodpecker is a bird that likes to live in old trees with loose bark and holes for nesting. To attract these birds, provide shelter from natural predators such as cats, owls, hawks and snakes by installing a tree house or an artificial nest box on your property.​​​​​​​

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers prefer nesting boxes made from natural materials such as cedar, pine or cypress. You can also use scrap wood that is untreated with chemicals if you’re handy with a saw and hammer.

Be sure to install the box onto a sturdy pole or tree at least 15 feet off the ground. And don’t worry about those pesky critters that may want to take up residence, too. The woodpeckers will do their own pest control in the form of destruction!

Add some brush piles for them to make a nest. This is one of the most important things you can do because if there’s no place for them to live, they won’t come back! 

Plant Trees And Shrubs

The list of trees that attract these woodpeckers. You will want to make sure you have some of these trees in your yard because they are popular birds and a good species to have in your area.  Some of the trees that they naturally occur at include apple, birch, maple, oak, and ash.

People who want to attract these birds can plant some of the following trees around their yards:

* Apple –
According to some studies, it was found out that this tree is one of the most attractive for red-bellied woodpeckers. It has attractive fruit and is a good source of food for this species. Not only that, but it can also be used to attract other birds as well because it provides nesting sites in the fall and winter. 

* Ash –
As you would expect by now, the ash tree is another very attractive plant for red-bellied woodpeckers. They love it because of its berries, which are tasty treats full of calories and nutrients like proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins A, B2, C as well as calcium. The only downside to this tree is that its branches are not very strong and can fall after heavy snow.

* Birch –
This is one of the most attractive trees because it has caterpillars, larvae, and other insects that are highly attractive to birds such as warblers, robins, thrashers, and even woodpeckers. Not only that, but the pollen from this tree is also good for attracting a number of different bird species.

* Black Gum –
This is another popular tree because of its waxy green fruit which will attract a number of different birds especially birds such as bluebirds, cedar waxwings, grosbeaks, titmice and woodpeckers.

Plant Flowers

Woodpeckers are usually known for their wood-boring, but red-bellied woodpeckers have a preference for plants. Red-bellied woodpeckers feed on the seeds of flowers, and vines, as well as insects they find in trees. They will land on a vine, then pick it up with their beaks to investigate its fruit.  If you want to attract this bird, try planting these flowers:

  • Bee Balm
  • Oriental Lily
  • Sunflowers
  • Squash Blossoms
  • Purple Coneflowers
  • Goldenrod
  • Red Tulips
  • Azaleas
  • Lavender
  • Columbine
  • Honeysuckle Vines
  • Morning Glory Vines
  • Trumpet Vines

Keep Pets Indoors

Woodpeckers are a joy to watch as they make their way around the yard looking for insects and other food. However, there is one thing that will put them off your property in a hurry: being chased by dogs or cats. 

Extra Tips

  • Hang shiny objects like beads or metal pieces from trees, poles, and shrubs.
  • Leave dead tree limbs for them to peck into.
  • Plant native plants that attract birds such as dogwood trees, wild roses, milkweed plants, sumac bushes and serviceberry bushes.
  • Keep the area around your house free from garbage or other sources of human food.
  • Make sure there is a wide variety of different foods that can be found in different places around the property.

Handpicked Related Post: 17 Backyard Birds That Eat Suet (with Photos, ID & Info!)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Red-bellied Woodpecker rare?

Are Red-bellied Woodpeckers rare? No, they are not. They are found in most of the Eastern United States and throughout Canada as well. These woodpeckers can be seen all year round in various habitats such as woods, parks, gardens, backyards and more.

Do Red-bellied Woodpeckers reuse their nests?

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is one of many species that are cavity nesters. These birds typically create their nests in hollowed out trees or by excavating the inside of an abandoned woodpecker hole in a tree trunk. In some cases, they will also reuse old nests left behind by previous generations of birds; others collect bark and lichen to form new homes for themselves.

Are Red-bellied Woodpeckers aggressive?

Red-bellied Woodpecker, can be quite aggressive when defending their territory or looking for a mate. Red-bellied Woodpeckers will attack potential predators such as squirrels, cats, and hawks in order to protect themselves and their family. This bird is also known to bully other species of woodpecker around their territory.

Do Red-bellied Woodpeckers mate for life?

Red-bellied Woodpeckers usually mate for life and are monogamous, which means they will only be with one partner at a time. The term “mate for life” is often used to describe monogamous relationships that last until one partner dies. 

Do Red-bellied Woodpeckers store seeds?

Red-bellied Woodpeckers store their food on the trees they peck, usually by putting seeds and nuts into bark crevices. They also hide acorns or beech nuts in leaf litter on the ground under oak trees during the winter months.

Where do Red-bellied Woodpeckers winter?

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are native to the eastern United States. They spend their summers in deciduous forests, and they live throughout most of the Eastern U.S., and winter in parts of Mexico and Central America. 


  • Vince S

    Meet Vince, the passionate founder and author of Learn Bird Watching, boasting 30 years of birding experience. With an unwavering mission to empower fellow bird enthusiasts, Vince shares invaluable wisdom and guidance. As a dedicated moderator and contributor to Quora's Bird Watchers' Club, he actively engages with the birding community, where his insightful answers have garnered over 440,000 views and over 2,670 upvotes. Whether you're a budding birder or a seasoned avian aficionado, his wealth of knowledge is at your service.