Feeding baby woodpeckers

What Do Baby Woodpeckers Eat?

While it’s illegal to keep woodpeckers as pets, this doesn’t mean you can’t help if you find one that’s still a baby, injured, or sick. If you’ve come across a baby woodpecker and you’re trying to care for it until a wildlife rehab center takes it in, or if you’re just curious about those little birds, this article is for you. So what do baby woodpeckers eat?

Baby woodpeckers aren’t all that different from other baby birds as they require a protein-rich diet. As such, baby woodpeckers can eat small insects, nuts, seeds, fruit, and tree sap brought in by the parents. At home, you can feed them mealworms, canned dog food, moistened dog biscuits, raw liver, and hard-boiled eggs.

Keep reading to find out more about the diet of a baby woodpecker and how can you best care for one.

What do Parent Woodpeckers Feed their Offspring?

What Diet is Most Appropriate for a Baby Woodpecker?

What Foods Can You Give a Baby Woodpecker?

Recipe #1

Recipe #2

What Foods Should You Not Give a Baby Woodpecker?

How often do Baby Woodpeckers Eat?

How to Feed a Baby Woodpecker

Tips for Feeding a Baby Woodpecker

Wrap Up

What do Parent Woodpeckers Feed their Offspring?

Woodpeckers alter their diets and that of their babies according to the most available food sources at the time.

In the spring, tree sap is a popular item on the menu when only a few other foods can be found. The sweet and rich sap would be rising in generous amounts in trees reawakening after winter.

In the spring and summer, adult and baby woodpeckers will mostly eat insects (wood-boring insects, grubs, spiders, and ants) as they provide high protein content for breeding birds and growing younglings.

In the fall, nuts, seeds, and fruit become a primary part of woodpeckers’ diet because of the abundance of natural harvests. In the winter, seeds and nuts are also the most common foods, along with some leftover fruit on bushes and trees.

What Diet is Most Appropriate for a Baby Woodpecker?

According to bird veterinarian Andrea Roberts, if you find yourself having to feed a baby woodpecker, then you should try and mimic its natural diet as closely as possible.

Author Note: Like most baby birds, baby woodpeckers get all the nutrients and fluids that they need for healthy growth from eating protein-rich insects and grubs. As such, your easiest and best option would be going down to your local pet store and buying something called ‘mealworms’.

This type of pet food is usually meant for geckos and other reptile pets to feast on, but it’s quite beneficial for birds as well. Mealworms are loaded with nutritional value and they also offer a high water content.

As a result, you probably won’t need to use the dropper to feed water, which is a plus because it’s very likely for inexperienced individuals to accidentally allow fluid to enter the bird’s lungs. Generally speaking, baby woodpeckers get all their fluid requirements from eating insects and grubs.

What Foods Can You Give a Baby Woodpecker?

When it comes to the exact type of food a baby woodpecker – or any baby bird for that matter- should be fed, the opinions widely vary. However, most experts do agree that the specific food you give a baby woodpecker isn’t very important as long as it’s getting the required nutrients for healthy growth.

While it’s true that different breeds of adult birds follow varying diets (some mostly eat insects, others primarily feed on seeds and berries), the majority of baby birds share rather similar needs and should be given food high in protein levels.

Baby woodpeckers are no exception. You can give them moist dog food, raw liver (no seasoning), hard-boiled eggs, moistened dog biscuits and moistened dog or cat kibble.

Here are a couple of excellent basic recipes to feed a baby woodpecker:

Recipe #1

A great starter diet for a recently hatched wild bird like a woodpecker consists of 60% puppy or kitten kibble, 20% hard-boiled eggs, and 20% mealworms (you can buy those online or from your local pet store).

You should moisten the kibble with water until it reaches a sponge-like texture. Don’t let it drip water because it’s possible for a baby woodpecker to drown in the excess liquid.

Additionally, you should chop the hard-boiled eggs and mealworms into pieces small enough for the baby bird to swallow easily.

Recipe #2

Another good recipe for feeding a baby woodpecker consists of:

  • 1 can wet dog food (or 2 cups of dry dog food moistened and mashed)
  • 1/2 cup poultry mash (this is a terrific source of calcium and other essential vitamins)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped hard-boiled egg

What Foods Should You Not Give a Baby Woodpecker?

Right off the bat, you should not feed a baby woodpecker bread or milk. A lot of people make this mistake with baby birds and often end up harming them.

You see, birds aren’t like mammals; they can’t digest milk. It’s not a part of a bird’s natural diet so they’ll be intolerant to it.

Author Note: As for bread, it’s full of empty calories and won’t provide the baby bird with enough nutrients to survive. Also, whatever food you give the baby woodpecker, you should make sure you serve it at room temperature.

Additional examples of foods or liquids you shouldn’t give a baby woodpecker include:

  • Water (Typically, water shouldn’t be given orally to any baby bird because the fluid is likely to enter and fill their lungs, causing them to drown)
  • Worms
  • Pet bird food
  • Kitchen scraps
  • Whole birdseed

How often do Baby Woodpeckers Eat?

Baby woodpeckers, like most baby birds, eat quite frequently. They have very demanding feeding schedules where their parents literally make hundreds of feeding trips every day.

Ideally, you want to feed a baby woodpecker every 15 to 30 minutes from sunrise to sunset.

You can use a syringe, pipette, or eye-dropper for feeding. The more mature the baby woodpecker is, the longer it can go between feedings and the more “adult” food it can eat without harm.

How to Feed a Baby Woodpecker

Using the correct feeding technique is crucial to ensure that the baby woodpecker gets enough nutrition to survive.

In general, baby birds should be fed very carefully. The best tools you can use are either a pair of dull tweezers or plastic forceps.

If you can’t get your hands on any of these, you can try using a chopstick that’s narrow enough to fit in the bird’s mouth.

  • To start feeding, grab a tiny bit of food with the tweezers or forceps or on the edge of the chopstick then drop it into the baby woodpecker’s mouth directly. If you’re worried that the food will go down the wrong way, don’t be. The bird’s glottis will shut on its own while feeding.
  • If the baby bird’s mouth isn’t opening, tap the beak gently with the feeding instrument or lightly rub the food around the edge of the beak. This will help the baby woodpecker understand that it’s time to eat.
  • If the bird still won’t open its mouth, you’ll need to gently and carefully force it open.
  • Continue feeding the baby birds until it starts rejecting the food or becomes less eager to open its beak.
  • Avoid overfeeding the baby woodpecker.

Tips for Feeding a Baby Woodpecker

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when feeding a baby woodpecker:

  • Offer food that has a spongy consistency.
  • Do not offer food that’s dripping with water because the excess fluid could cause choking or drowning.
  • All dry food should be softened before being offered to a baby woodpecker.
  • Food should be offered at room temperature only. Do not warm the food, heat it, refrigerate it, or chill it.
  • Feed the bird small bits of food and keep them in proportion to its size. The tinier the birds, the smaller the bites they need.
  • Mash, cut, or crush food to suit the baby bird’s size.
  • While feeding the baby bird, offer as little as possible to reduce the risk of additional stress or injury.
  • Never use too much force to pry the bird’s beak open to eat. Always be gentle.
  • Keep the bird warm. This is important to get it to eat. Wrap the baby woodpecker in a towel and put it under your shirt close to your skin.
  • Do not feed the bird when it’s cold. It’s not that it won’t eat, but it won’t be able to digest the food it downs. In this case, feeding could do more harm than good.
  • Do your best to create a low-stress environment for the baby woodpecker. Like most baby birds, it won’t thrive and eat unless kept in calm, low-stress conditions.

Wrap Up

Author Note: So what do baby woodpeckers eat? In nature, they feed on small insects, nuts, seeds, fruit, and tree sap brought in by the parents. At home, you can feed them mealworms, canned dog food, moistened dog biscuits, raw liver, and hard-boiled eggs.

Remember that feeding a baby wild bird should only be an emergency measure. If you find one that’s abandoned and needs care, contact or take it to a bird rescue organization as soon as possible.

Professionals there will help baby birds learn how to find food, evade predators, and several other skills required for a successful life in the wild. We hope you enjoyed this article on what do baby woodpeckers eat.

Fly high friends!

What Do Baby Woodpeckers Eat? (Foods & Feeding Tips)

Baby woodpeckers are not able to eat all the foods which adult woodpeckers can easily consume. Also, feeding baby woodpeckers is a crucial part of their care. This is the reason that many people have posted the question of what do baby woodpeckers eat?

Baby cardinals eat several foods, including dog foods, insects, moistened cat foods, worms, moistened cat kibble, etc. You need to use the hand-feeding method for feeding them properly. Know how you can properly feed them.

Table of Contents:

  • What Do Woodpeckers Feed Their Babies?
  • What To Feed Newborn Woodpeckers?
  • What To Feed Fledgling Woodpeckers?
  • How To Feed Baby Woodpeckers?
    • How Often & How Much Do Baby Woodpeckers Eat?
  • What Do Baby Pileated & Baby Downy Woodpeckers Eat?
  • Do Baby Woodpeckers Need Water?
  • Do Baby Woodpeckers Feed Each Other?
  • Conclusion

What Do Woodpeckers Feed Their Babies?

For food, baby birds are always dependent on their parent bird. Mother bird usually brings the food in their beaks and offers it to baby birds whenever they need it.

Baby birds open their mouth wide and screech when they are hungry. The food served by mother woodpeckers to their babies mostly includes high protein food, like worms, insects, and insect larvae.

Woodpeckers’ parents always love their baby woodpeckers, and their love is unconditional for their babies. That is why while feeding baby woodpeckers, they never discriminate against their baby woodpeckers.

These help baby birds in growing healthy. Lack of proper nutrition in baby birds leads to poor growth. The mother woodpecker has to fly several times to get food as baby woodpeckers need to be fed every few minutes.

What To Feed Newborn Woodpeckers?

Newborn woodpeckers should be fed many times a day. You have to feed them until they start eating by themselves. Then, you can serve them insects.

But you have to hand feed them as they are very young and small, they cannot eat by themselves. Other than this, you can also hand-feed a newborn woodpecker with dog food.

Use the hand-feeding method for feeding them with the help of a tweezer or toothpicks. There is no need to give them water with every food because it can be bad for them.

But you can add water to dry things like dry cat kibble or dry dog kibble. Soak them in water so then newborn woodpeckers can feed on them.

While hand-feeding them, make sure they did not get hurt. The water in food will fulfill the need for water in newborn woodpeckers, so there is no need to serve them water.

Newborn woodpeckers need to be fed after every few minutes for many days until they grow up. You can also prepare some baby food for baby woodpeckers. For this, you have to boil water, so then it will become bacteria-free water.

Then mix baby food with water and mix them gradually. The mixture should look like a creamy pudding and should be free from lumps.

You can use an eyedropper to serve this type of baby food to baby woodpeckers. The food should not be hot as it can damage the digestive tract of a baby woodpecker.

However, it should be slightly warm so that the baby bird can eat this food easily. Use a thermometer to check the temperature before serving.

What To Feed Fledgling Woodpeckers?

Fledging woodpeckers need a lot of fat and high-protein food for better and fast growth. Suppose mother woodpeckers are not there, then you must feed fledging woodpeckers.

They can eat by themselves after a few days of being grown up. The food to feed the fledging woodpeckers depends on the season. You can feed them insects like ants, spiders, grubs, and mealworms to fledging woodpeckers.

Along with this, you can also feed them nuts, but in small sizes, so they can feed on them easily. Fledging woodpeckers can also feed on seeds, fruits, and berries.

Never serve them only one type of food. Always serve them different varieties of food. You can also serve them mixed foods. Their diet can be changed according to the abundant sources.

In winter, fledging woodpeckers love to eat nuts and seeds, and fruits are available at that time.

After a long winter, the sap is available for fledging woodpeckers, and in spring and winter, they feed on insects with high protein. So, their food choices change according to the season.

How To Feed Baby Woodpeckers?

Whenever baby woodpeckers are hungry, they will open their mouth wide and will start screeching. At that time, you will know they are hungry, bring the food and put it in their beaks so they can eat.

Usually, the baby bird who screeches the most gets more food. If you are feeding them with tweezers or a toothpick, make sure you do not hurt them.

After feeding them, clean their beaks as if there is food on their beak. After a few minutes, it will be dried, and baby woodpeckers will face difficulty while opening their beaks.

To clean their beak, use warm water and a wet towel not to get any harm. Wash the utensils after every serving with the warm water that you used to serve food to baby woodpeckers.

Before serving, check the food; it should not be hot and free from all those things that are not good for baby woodpeckers.

Before serving anything to baby woodpeckers, your first job is to introduce it to them. If they like it, you can continue feeding that food.

Otherwise, stop and do not force them to feed on it. Never overfeed any baby bird as it is not good for them. A specific amount and timing are fixed for a bird of every age.

It is suggested that you should always use freshly mixed feed. But if you need to mix beforehand, you can prepare enough formula for a maximum of 3 days and preserve it in a refrigerator.

After that, you can heat and feed the preserved mix, but you can not reuse it. You may have to add water, but make sure not to add too much water as it will dilute the mix and decrease the nutrients.

How Often & How Much Do Baby Woodpeckers Eat?

Food for baby woodpeckers should be served almost every 15 mins. The time difference in food changes as they grow up. As baby woodpeckers are very young and small, so special precautions should be taken while feeding them.

You should be feeding the baby birds every 15 to 20 minutes from morning to evening. The feeding schedule of baby birds is crucial. you need to stick with the schedule for better growth of baby woodpeckers.

So to cope with this tough schedule, you are required to feed the baby birds every 15 to 20 from morning till evening. You can increase the time from 15 to 20 minutes to 30 to 45 minutes when birds are old enough to open their eyes and have grown some feathers.

After that, start increasing the time interval between the feeds and the amount of feed you gradually give your birds.

Once the babies have started coming out of the nest, you can start feeding them once an hour and increase that time to once every 2 to 3 hours. And after that, you can leave the pieces of food around their box for them to pick them up by themselves.

The amount of food that baby woodpeckers eat depends on their age. A 1-week-old baby woodpecker eats more than a 2-week-old baby woodpecker.

What Do Baby Pileated & Baby Downy Woodpeckers Eat?

The primary food baby pileated woodpeckers are ants. However, they can also feed on beetle larvae or termites that lie deep in the wood.

Baby downy woodpeckers also love to eat insects like ants, larvae, etc. They can eat 4 to 5 insect larvae at a time.

Do Baby Woodpeckers Need Water?

No, baby woodpeckers do not need water as their food easily fulfills their water requirement. They can get water from cat and dog food soaked in water and from live mealworms also. If you will feed them water forcefully, it can harm baby woodpeckers badly.

Do Baby Woodpeckers Feed Each Other?

Baby woodpeckers feed each other, and if one loses its sibling, they feed any other baby bird if they are opening its beak for food. It is very normal among them, and they try to feed each other if needed.


Many people are confused about what to feed baby woodpeckers and what they eat. The proper guide for their foods and ways to feed them are briefly given in the above post will help you in caring for the baby woodpeckers.

As they grow, the quantity of food to be eaten is lesser as the time to feed reduces. When they are very young, their mother woodpecker feeds them every few minutes, but as they grow they eat two to three times a day.

Ethan Harris

Hello! I am Ethan Harris, and I love to share about caring for birds, feeding birds, and many more things that you are searching for on the internet. Please do comment if you have any doubts.

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What to feed a woodpecker - a feeder and home conditions

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Maya Barsukova •

The woodpecker is considered the orderly of the forest. Only he has a flair for choosing diseased and infected trees. He eats harmful insects and their larvae, from which they lose their strength and die woody plants.

Woodpeckers have bright plumage. They cannot sing, nor can they fly well. These birds lead a sedentary lifestyle. You can also keep a woodpecker at home, offering food that the bird prefers to eat in nature. nine0003

What to feed woodpeckers in the feeder

In order for these beautiful and useful birds to become frequent guests in the garden bird canteen, it is advisable to feed the woodpeckers in the feeder with properly selected food. Woodpecker nutrition in wildlife is varied. They love nuts, various insects, do not refuse seeds and meat. Woodpeckers prefer those feeders in which food is similar to what they find every day in their natural habitat.

Do not forget that the woodpecker feeders must be upside down. Feeding woodpeckers in a vertical type feeder means keeping the birds in their correct position, similar to feeding in natural conditions. nine0003

The woodpecker is an insectivorous bird, but he will not refuse fruits in his diet, especially he likes apples. In winter, he prefers the interior fat of cows and sheep. This fat can be hung in its natural unprocessed form in small pieces on branches. And you can melt it and mix it with the seeds of any tree or cones and cool. Put this mixture directly into the feeders.

Woodpeckers are good eaters of piled maggots - only they need to tear off their heads before putting them in the feeder. Also, they will not refuse small cockroaches - they need to be pressed down a little. Woodpeckers and cereals, for example, millet, will peck with pleasure. nine0003

How to feed a woodpecker at home

A woodpecker is mobile and active in nature, therefore, it needs a large cage. You can make an aviary, inside which it is better to install tree trunks. The woodpecker must be kept alone, because it is hostile to other birds. He can cripple or even kill another feathered one.

Woodpeckers are voracious. He must have constant access to food. Feeding a woodpecker at home is not difficult. When feeding woodpeckers at home, you can add low-fat cottage cheese, hard-boiled and not coarsely chopped eggs, carrots and apple slices chopped on a fine grater. nine0003

This bird is good at cracking raw sunflower and hemp seeds. You can also feed woodpeckers with food from pet stores. Purchased crickets, worms, tree larvae, ant eggs can be added to the feed. Live insects should not be given to woodpeckers. A woodpecker can eat a butterfly, a caterpillar, a snail. You should try to give at home what the woodpecker eats in the wild.

In spring, you can offer the bird buds from trees or young shoots. Since in the natural environment he regales himself with meat, the raw or boiled meat of cows and birds will not be alien to him. You can offer raspberries, currants. nine0003

In the cold season, it is permissible to collect and give cones and nuts. In order for the woodpecker to start eating food unknown to him in nature, it is advisable to place him in the crevices of the trunks in the aviary. In the future, next to the trunk, it is necessary to place a vertical feeder with a drinking bowl for a pet.

What Woodpeckers Should Not Eat

Woodpeckers should not be fed bread, salted bacon, lard, roasted sunflower seeds or supplements. You can not pour spoiled, expired cereals and feed. No need to give cookies and yeasty, rich buns. nine0003

It is not advisable to treat them with seasoned crackers, potato chips. In warm months, it is required to exclude interior fat and lard from the diet, it melts under the influence of warm temperatures, sticks to feathers and stains the plumage of birds. In summer, do not give woodpeckers cones and nuts.

Tags: woodpecker, feeder, bird feeding

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Just find a woodpecker's hollow. It is not difficult to find it: usually woodpecker chicks continuously chirp. Can be heard fifty meters away. Parents will also not be shy at you for long: they will crackle, spin, get used to you in fifteen minutes and begin to behave as if nothing had happened. At least in Moscow: our woodpeckers are not frightened and let us in almost at arm's length. Especially the big motley ones. I remember that in the suburbs I had to guard for about forty minutes. nine0003

This is dad. Dad has a red head. Dad is bolder and flew in first.

This is my mother. Mom is still cautious and keeps aloof.

But children still need to be fed. Moreover, she has a full beak of food.

Having calmed down, the birds returned to their usual routine. Mom flew in and out, but dad dived into the hollow every time he arrived...

...and emerged back with a bundle of waste products. nine0003

During the entire time that I was standing there, dad climbed into the hollow four or five times, mom never. Apparently, they have cleaning - the duty of the male. At least in this family. ;-)

Here you can try to see what they feed their children. Something white and shapeless. Any larvae?

Cubs do not stick out yet. It will be necessary to come in three days, shoot the small ones. And they will fly out soon. nine0003

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