6 Ways To Attract Pileated Woodpeckers To Your Yard


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Pileated woodpeckers are medium-sized birds that are very easy to recognize because of the red crest on top of the mostly black body. They’re well known for the drilling sound they make when they drill into trees to nest and find food.

If you saw them in your area and you’re looking for a way to attract pileated woodpeckers to your home to admire their beauty from close-up, here are the six ways to do just that.

1. Use Dying Trees To Attract Pileated Woodpeckers

In the wild, pileated woodpeckers mostly inhabit large, thick forests. There, they use trees for both feeding and nesting.

They can also be found in smaller forests, and they sometimes venture out to residential areas to explore our habitat.

Pileated woodpeckers feed on insects and larvae, both of which are common in trees. They’ll chip holes in tree bark and use their long, sticky tongues to get any insects residing in the tree.

Aside from drilling into a tree to get food, they can also get insects from tree bark crevices.

You can use this to your advantage – if you have a dead tree in your yard, don’t knock it down. Insects will naturally infest the tree, which will attract pileated woodpeckers.

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Additionally, the digging can sometimes uncover so much food, other birds will be attracted to your tree too.

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When it comes to nesting, a pileated woodpecker male will drill the tree until he carves out a large nest. A female will be attracted to the male and join him in his nest in April, leaving after their young grow up.

By leaving a dead tree in your yard, you’re providing a home for pileated woodpeckers.

You should know, though, that pileated woodpeckers leave the nest after they raise their young and they only return next year. In the meantime, the nest may be invaded by other animals, such as owls.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the sound of a woodpecker drilling into a tree can be quite annoying. This method is great for attracting woodpeckers, but make sure you won’t have a problem with it.


2. Set Up A Suet Bird Feeder

Woodpeckers will definitely be attracted to your bird feeder, especially if you fill it with suet.

Although they mostly feed on animals in the wild, pileated woodpeckers will also eat fruits, berries, and nuts if they find any.

You can add mealworms and any type of small nuts, such as sunflower seeds or peanut hearts, to your suet bird feeder to make the food even more enticing.

Pileated woodpeckers are known for foraging for food in residential areas, especially in gardens and orchards, so hanging a feeder in your garden should attract them.


3. Keep The Bird Feeder Full During Winter

Pileated woodpeckers can be found on the Pacific Coast, the Northeast, and Southeast, and throughout Canada. Some of these places get very cold during the winter and food in the wild becomes scarce.

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Because of this, it’s imperative that you refill the bird feeder regularly, as the woodpeckers are much likelier to visit your feeder in the winter.

Since woodpeckers are not migratory birds, one bird could get used to your bird feeder and keep returning to it year after year!


4. Build A Nest For A Pileated Woodpecker Pair

A pair of pileated woodpeckers will return to the same hole year after year if it doesn’t get invaded by another animal. You can offer them a nest of your own to attract them, as they’ll rather use a premade nest than dig one on their own.

The important thing to keep in mind is the height – a pileated woodpecker nest has to be raised at least 15 feet from the ground. Your best bet is to attach the nest to the dead tree in your yard.

The nest itself has to be relatively big, as pileated woodpeckers can grow up to 19 inches long, and the nest has to host two of them.


5. Offer Pileated Woodpeckers A Heated Bird Bath

During the winter, water sources can become frozen. When that happens, birds have a tough time finding water – this is especially common with birds in northern areas.

You can attract them by installing a heated bird bath in your yard.

The heat won’t allow the water to freeze (unless it’s astonishingly cold outside) and the birds will always have access to water, which means they’ll keep returning to your yard.

The woodpeckers will be attracted to the bird bath because of the sound of running water, which is how they find water in the wild.

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During the warmer months of the year, pileated woodpeckers will return to your bird bath not only to drink, but also to wash themselves.


6. Plant Fruits And Berries In Your Garden

Although insects are the primary source of calories for the pileated woodpecker, it will gladly eat berries and fruit if you offer them any.

Now, growing fruit trees can be a bit difficult and requires some experience. Growing berries, however, is very easy and if you plant a few bushes in your garden, they’re guaranteed to attract woodpeckers.

Since woodpeckers are resistant enough to eat poison ivy berries in the wild, you can plant any berry variant – they can eat anything they want.

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Want more birds in your backyard? Get simple tips on attracting feathered friends and maximizing your bird feeding setup. Our free cheat sheet has got you covered!
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James Goodman

James is a native Texan with a love for birding and outdoor adventures. When he's not birdwatching, you can find him hiking, camping or playing the piano.

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