I can hear the woodpeckers at work on the trees. Sometimes they like to ratta-tat-tat on the eaves of our house.
Woodpeckers are beneficial birds because they eat a lot of insects. Bill Golden designs woodpecker feeders and says if you want to attract these birds to your yard, you have to offer food to them in a way they'll understand.
"Aside from a design that allows them to cling, it needs to be a design where they're going to be reaching into something and the woodpecker can peck into those holes. I'm trying to approximate how they would react in nature with actually looking underneath bark and pecking into things looking for food where a woodpecker could actually peck up into smaller diameter holes drilled up like maybe a 45-degree angle up into the wood," says Golden. "That even more closely simulates nature."
Woodpeckers have a unique clinging ability and use their tails to help support them as they move around. Golden says a feeder made from cedar wood is best because it's soft enough for the birds to cling to, and weathers the elements well.
Stuffing high-quality suet into feeder holes will please any woodpecker. Unfortunately, the pesky starlings like suet, too. But you can discourage them by the way you hang the feeder.
"Woodpeckers can cling on that very easily, walk upside down," says Golden. "I only go to the horizontal position if I'm having a problems with starlings. I don't have many starlings around right now, so it's hanging in its near-upright position, which makes it easier on the woodpeckers to access the feeder."
The best hanging place is about 30' from other feeders, suspended on a wire or cable. Golden says this eliminates most of the "launch points" for the starlings. If they can jump or flutter to the feeder, they'll stab at it to get the food, but they won't be able to hang on.
Learn more about woodpecker feeding and how to attract them to your yard
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