In the 1950s and 1960s, Downy Woodpeckers fed heavily on the Elm Bark Beetle, which was responsible for spreading Dutch Elm Disease. Downy woodpeckers are diurnal birds that prefer to spend their time singly. In fact, while some woodpeckers may use drumming to help dislodge insects to eat or to drill holes to get at sap or burrowing insects, drumming is most often unrelated to eating. Downy Woodpecker on The IUCN Red List site -, descent, descension, drumming, fall, gatling,, Their range consists of most of the United States and Canada. There is a white bar above the eye and one below. Planting oak trees or other nut-bearing trees and bushes for woodpeckers to use. The exact foods preferred by each species vary, but the most popular woodpecker foods include: Woodpeckers change their diets according to what food sources are most abundant. She has over 16 years experience writing about wild birds for magazines and websites. More than 75 percent of a Downy Woodpecker's diet consists of insects, particularly wood-boring beetles, weevils, and other species that humans consider to be pests. Woodpeckers aren’t picky. The most popular foods for woodpeckers at feeders include: The types of feeders available are also important for feeding woodpeckers. Sapsuckers drill very small holes in trees to feed on sap. and there will always be many different answers. Suet. They mainly eat insects but also berries, seeds, grains, acorns, sap, and suet from birdfeeders. Instead, drumming is a method of communication, typically used to advertise a territory or attract a mate. By using The Spruce, you accept our, Feeding Birds in Winter - Tips and Tricks. Providing saucer-style nectar feeders can be effective for feeding woodpeckers. In the spring and summer, these birds feast primarily on insects that provide high levels of protein for breeding birds and growing hatchlings. The female lays 3-8 eggs and both parents incubate them for about 12 days. They breed from January through March. The acorn woodpecker, for example, creates extensive granary trees to hold hundreds or thousands of acorns. Ask any backyard birder 'what do woodpeckers eat?' Downy woodpeckers have special feathers around their nostrils; these feathers keep the birds from breathing in wood chips. Melissa Mayntz has been a birder and wild bird enthusiast for 30+ years. Diet The diet of woodpeckers consists mainly of insects, berries, nuts, and seeds collected from trees and shrubs. Mostly insects. They fledge at about 18 to 21 days but parents continue to feed them for about 3 weeks more. Smaller woodpeckers, such as the downy woodpecker, may cling to a variety of cage feeders, and woodpeckers will also cling to dried sunflower heads to feed directly from the plants. Sap is a popular food in the spring when few other foods are available but rich, sweet sap is rising in trees reawakening after a long winter. It takes about 1 to 3 weeks for Downy woodpeckers to excavate a nest cavity before laying eggs. Drumming is a form of non-vocal communication used by most species of woodpecker and involves the bill being repeatedly struck on a hard surface with great rapidity. Smaller woodpeckers may hide seeds or dead insects under loose bits of bark, or even bury them in the ground to retrieve later if fresher foods aren't available. Woodpeckers stay in the same range year-round, but as the seasons change they alter their diets to take advantage of easily available foods that meet their nutritional needs. Abandoned nest cavities of these birds may also serve as a shelter for other cavity-nesting birds or animals. Will eat suet at bird feeders. They like to visit bird feeders to much on suet and sunflower seeds, too. Suet straight from the butcher will do; there’s no need to render it. Hopper or tray feeders are the most effective for offering other types of foods while allowing these birds comfortable room to perch. Feeds on a variety of insects, especially beetles and ants, also gall wasps, caterpillars, others.