What You Need In Your Suet Blend To Attract Woodpeckers

Did you know that many woodpeckers are non-migratory? That is, they live in the same habitat year-round, which means if you frequently see (or hear!) them pecking away in the spring and summer, you can often attract them to your yard during the winter, too. What can you add to a suet blend to make sure that happens? Nuts, nut butter, seeds, corn, insects, and fruits are among the woodpecker's favorite snacks.

Woodpeckers rely on suet to help them thrive during the bitterest months of the year. They aren't too picky about their suet blends, but there are a few specific ingredients you can add to draw them in including peanuts, all types of tree nuts, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, mealworms, cracked corn or cornmeal, and dried fruit like raisins. Any of these make for a great addition to a basic suet cake but incorporating a few makes for an even better woodpecker magnet to place in your feeder.

How to make suet to attract woodpeckers

If you're not overly familiar with suet, it's the perfect addition to a yard when it comes to helping birds thrive during the winter. It's made of rendered fat or lard combined with other ingredients that provide energy to overwintering birds. You can buy premade suet, but it's easy to DIY a suet block to feed your outdoor bird friends, including a variety of woodpeckers.

A simple recipe for woodpecker suet includes the following: 1 cup lard, 1 cup peanut butter, 2 1/2 cups oats, and 2 1/2 cups cornmeal. Melt the lard and peanut butter together. Add in the oats and cornmeal. To make it even more of a treat, add in some dried mealworms (available from pet supply stores) or a handful of peanuts or raisins. Transfer the mixture to a pan and refrigerate until it hardens. Cut the suet into squares appropriately sized to fit your feeder. Wrap any leftovers in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer to keep them fresh. 

The types of woodpeckers you can attract with suet

There are 23 species of woodpeckers native to the United States, according to the American Bird Conservancy. As it turns out, they're some of the best customers when it comes to dedicated suet diners. These include hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and northern flickers among others. Occasionally, even pileated woodpeckers will frequent backyard suet feeders. Most of these have red feathers somewhere on their heads, with the pileated woodpecker's crest being the most elaborate, but several species of woodpeckers are simply black and white.

Of course, other birds are attracted to suet feeders over the winter as well. These include nuthatches, jays, and chickadees. So, while you might mix up a treat-filled batch of suet with woodpeckers in mind, and it can keep them at your feeders a little longer than average, don't be surprised to see a few other feathered friends dining there, too.