What Do Woodpeckers Eat?

What Do Woodpeckers Eat?
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What Do Woodpeckers Eat? Woodpeckers are magnificent birds classified under the family Picidae and sub-family Picinae.

These birds are found almost everywhere around the globe except in Madagascar, Australia, New Guinea, the polar regions, and New Zealand.

As suggested by their names, woodpeckers are drilling small holes in trees. These birds mainly feed on insects, nuts, seeds, berries, and sap.

What Do Woodpeckers Eat?

Type of Woodpecker Scientific Name Diet
White Woodpecker Melanerpes candidus Seeds, fruits, and insects.
Bennetts Woodpecker Campethera bennettii Ants, beetles, and termites.
Ivory-billed Woodpecker Campephilus principalis Beetle larvae, arboreal termites, nuts, fruits, grains, and seeds.
Chestnut Woodpecker Celeus elegans Ants and termites.

Woodpeckers Diet by Types

Over 300 woodpecker species have been described. These birds are further organized into tribes/phylogeny and different genera. This section will sample out members from the different phylogenies and proceed to look at their habitats.

What Do White Woodpeckers Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Piciformes Picidae Melanerpes Melanerpes candidus

What Do White Woodpeckers Eat

White woodpeckers commonly dine on seeds, fruits, and insects.

  • This species is native to South America. Its range covers Peru, Brazil, and Argentina.
  • The white woodpecker is notable for its white underparts and head, with yellow patches on its belly and hindneck.
  • This species commonly inhabits wooded savannahs, grassland, and rainforest edges.

What Do Bennett’s Woodpeckers Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Piciformes Picidae Campethera Campethera bennettii
What Do Bennetts Woodpeckers Eat
What Do Bennetts Woodpeckers Eat (Source: Wikimedia)

Bennett’s woodpeckers mainly feed on insects, particularly ants, beetles, and termites. They are likely to be found excavating ant nests located underground and scooping them using their specialized tongues.

  • Bennett’s woodpecker is found in specific regions in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa.
  • This type of woodpecker commonly inhabits savannah, shrubland, and inland wetlands.

What Do Ivory-billed Woodpeckers Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Piciformes Picidae Campephilus Campephilus principalis
What Do Ivory Billed Woodpeckers Eat
What Do Ivory Billed Woodpeckers Eat (Source: Wikimedia)

The main diet of the Ivory-billed woodpeckers is beetle larvae. They also forage on the ground for insects, mainly arboreal termites. These birds also include nuts, fruits, grains, and seeds in their diet. This eating behavior confirms that these woodpeckers are omnivores.

  • The ivory-billed woodpeckers previously inhabited a more significant portion of the southeastern parts of the United States.
  • Slightly worrying is the fact that their local population has been reduced because of habitat destruction (due to extensive logging).
  • These woodpeckers are considered to be the largest in the US. They can grow to lengths of between 45-53 cm, and the average weight is between 450-570 g.
  • Their average wingspan has been recorded to be about 78 cm.
  • These woodpeckers get their name from the fact that they have long, white, chisel-shaped bills.
  • The members of this species commonly inhabit forests with large trees. They prefer dying trees because they provide an abundant supply of food.

What Do Chestnut Woodpeckers Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Piciformes Picidae Celeus Celeus elegans
What Do Chestnut Woodpeckers Eat
What Do Chestnut Woodpeckers Eat (Source: Wikimedia)

The Chestnut woodpeckers are known to hunt ants and termites for their food.

  • The chestnut woodpecker has a wide distribution. Its population has been spotted in Trinidad, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela.
  • This woodpecker species is more extensive compared to other members of the genus Celeus.
  • When compared to other woodpeckers in its genus, this species, like a yellow cream-colored woodpecker, has no black markings on its wings and the body.
  • It sports a dark chestnut brown hue.
  • The chestnut woodpecker commonly inhabits forests and edges of streams and lakes.

How Do Woodpeckers Hunt?

When looking for insects, woodpeckers dig/peck rotting, dying, diseased trees, or other kinds of trees, they consider being likely spots for their prey. Some species hunt by excavating ant nests.

When Do Woodpeckers Eat?

Woodpeckers are mostly diurnal and will be found foraging for food and eating during daylight hours.

How Often Do Woodpeckers Eat?

How often woodpeckers eat depends on many different factors, including age and their stage of development.

  • For instance, nestlings feed more frequently to sustain their growth needs. The birds in the molting stage feed more frequently, as well.
  • They spend more time resting and feeding because the process of creating new feathers requires more energy, which they can address by having a little extra to eat.

What Eats Woodpeckers?

What Eats Woodpeckers Falcons

Woodpeckers are vulnerable to predators who consider them to be a vital delicacy. Some of the organisms that hunt woodpeckers include some owl species, falcons, hawks, red foxes, raccoons, flying squirrels, and some snakes.

Where Do Woodpeckers Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Woodpeckers are essential to the animal food chain as prey and predators.

  • In their role as prey, they provide food to a vast range of organisms, thus promoting their survival.
  • In their role as predators, woodpeckers help regulate the local population of the different kinds of insects they feed on. In essence, they promote the existence of a balance in their ecosystem.

Cite this article as: "What Do Woodpeckers Eat?," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, January 28, 2019, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-woodpeckers-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Woodpeckers”. Accessed October 28, 2019. Link.
  • “White Woodpecker – Introduction | Neotropical Birds Online”. Accessed October 28, 2019. Link.
  • “Campethera bennettii (Bennett’s woodpecker)”. Accessed October 28, 2019. Link.
  • “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Accessed October 28, 2019. Link.
  • “ADW: Campephilus principalis: INFORMATION”. Accessed October 28, 2019. Link.
  • “Chestnut Woodpecker – Introduction | Neotropical Birds Online”. Accessed October 28, 2019. Link.

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