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Do Woodpeckers Live in Birdhouses? (Plus Tips to Attract Them)

Do Woodpeckers Live in Birdhouses? (Plus Tips to Attract Them)

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Attracting wild birds like woodpeckers to your backyard won’t only make beautiful scenery. It’ll also add rhythm to your yard and may control infestations. (That is three birds with one stone!)

Aside from their colorful feathers and diversity, each woodpecker has its own unique drumming sound. Woodpeckers tap into trees, searching for food, marking their territory, or building nests.

If you’re a birder wanting woodpeckers to visit your yard, you may wonder: Do woodpeckers live in birdhouses?

This article will tell you all the information needed to attract woodpeckers to your backyard.

Do Woodpeckers Live In Birdhouses?

Yes, woodpeckers are cavity-nesting birds. They build nests and take care of hatchlings inside cavities.

Woodpeckers either dig out their own holes or start building their nests in pre-existing chambers.

That’s why having birdhouses in your yard may attract nesting woodpeckers during the breeding season.

How to Attract Woodpeckers to Your Yard?

Woodpeckers aren’t usually the first bird species to nest in your yard. They are shy birds that require more effort to attract—birdhouses alone may not cut it.

Each woodpecker has their own preferences. However, with the right food, clean water, and a suitable nesting location, you’ll manage to attract various woodpecker species.

Offer Adequate Food

Woodpeckers eat various foods, like insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds in the wild.

Because of their long tongues, woodpeckers can capture many wood-boring insects and feed on them. If you live in an area surrounded by fruit or nut trees, you’ll probably find many woodpeckers nearby.

Even if your surrounding landscape isn’t particularly woodpecker-friendly, it’s still possible to have woodpeckers in your yard.

Woodpeckers love suets—beef fat around the kidneys—and you can use it to attract them. You can provide suets by getting it from the grocery store and serving it raw.

You can also buy prepared suet cakes or make them. Just make sure there aren’t any chemical fillers in the ingredients.

Choose The Right Bird Feeder

One thing to keep in mind is the type of bird feeder. You can feed woodpeckers wild bird seed mix in wired bird feeders.

However, lots of other birds can access food in wired feeders as well. You can restrict this by providing the bird seed mix in bird feeders with small holes, so only birds with long beaks can reach the food.

If you choose to feed suets, you can just place them on tree branches or inside tree cavities. Make sure the suets are cut into pieces to prevent birds from snatching the entire suet chunk away.

You can go the extra mile and serve the suet in an upside-down feeder. That’ll prevent birds that can’t hang upside down from eating the suets.

Provide Comfortable Birdhouses

Woodpeckers like to excavate holes in trees to mark their territory, get food, or build nests. Although you may hang various nest boxes in your yard, you can still fail to attract woodpeckers.

You can get more woodpeckers by filling the nest boxes with plenty of woodchips. They’ll dig it and think of the birdhouse as the product of their hard work.

Choose a Suitable Size

While woodpeckers’ sizes differ according to the species, they may need a bigger entrance hole than other common nesting birds.

For instance, downy woodpeckers are small, and an entrance hole of 1.5 inches will be a good fit.

On the other hand, a pileated woodpecker is considered large and needs an entrance size of 4 inches.

Birdhouse Placement

You should mount woodpeckers’ nesting houses high on trees. The mounting height varies from one species to another, but generally, a height between 8 to 20 feet will cover many woodpecker species.

Keep The Birdhouse Clean

A dirty birdhouse repels most birds. Make sure to clean birdhouses after each brood.

Dirty birdhouses host bacteria, yeasts, and insects. These organisms are harmful and can cause severe infections to woodpeckers and other birds.

Scrape the birdhouse with a weak bleach solution and rinse it a couple of times with running water.

Give Them Clean Water

Like any living creature, woodpeckers need fresh water for drinking. However, woodpeckers are shy, and they won’t crowd with other birds in a birdbath.

You should position birdbaths intended for woodpeckers in a secluded area. Woodpeckers prefer ground or pedestal bird baths.

The basin shouldn’t exceed 2 inches deep. You can also entice the woodpeckers by adding a bubbler to the birdbath.

Remember to clean bird baths as stagnant water is contaminated easily and spreads diseases.

How Long Do Woodpeckers Stay In Birdhouses?

The breeding season will vary according to woodpeckers’ species, but it’s typically from spring till late summer.

Woodpeckers take around three weeks to set up a nest and 7-14 days till the eggs hatch. The hatchlings take three weeks or a month till they fledge.

What’s more, some woodpecker species have up to three broods in a year. They can also choose not to migrate during winter and shelter in birdhouses.

That means you can expect woodpeckers to guest in your yard all year round.

Do Woodpeckers Reuse Old Nests?

Usually, no. Like downy and hairy woodpeckers, most species will build different nests each time they lay eggs.

However, the red-headed woodpecker is an exception. Red-head woodpeckers use the same nesting chamber several years in a row.

Still, almost all woodpeckers will return to the same nesting area if they’ve reproduced successfully in it.

Which Woodpecker Species Nest in Birdhouses?

Woodpecker species visiting your backyard will differ according to where you live.

The most common species that nest in birdhouses are downy, hairy, red-headed, pileated, and red-bellied woodpeckers.

Downy and hairy woodpeckers are found across most of the U.S. Pileated woodpeckers live in eastern and northwestern forests.

Yellow-bellied, red-headed, and red-bellied woodpeckers inhabit the eastern forests in the U.S.

Unfortunately, red-headed woodpeckers were once common, but now they’re threatened, and you may not find them as much.

Final Thoughts

As a birdwatcher, you may seek different ways to entice wild birds to come to your yard. One method that’ll help you achieve this goal is by hanging birdhouses.

Birdhouses provide a shelter for various nesting birds, but what about woodpeckers? Do woodpeckers live in birdhouses as well?

Like many cavity-nesting birds, woodpeckers will appreciate a birdhouse.

However, you should take additional steps like adding woodchips and placing the birdhouse in a quiet area to keep enjoying woodpeckers’ visits.


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