About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do Woodpeckers Drink Water from Birdbaths?

Woodpeckers (mostly downy and hairy in East Lansing) seem to be the only birds that do not avail themselves of the water in my birdbath. How do they drink? Is there another way I can get water to them?
Most woodpeckers can get a lot of liquid through their food and do not drink at baths as often as other birds. Nice juicy bugs, berries and suet cakes aren’t as dry as seeds and require the woodpeckers to make fewer stops at the bath.
But Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers do drink water. They scoop it up with their bill from tiny pools in the branches of trees, puddles, streams, ponds and even bird baths when needed.
I’ve seen the woodpeckers going for a full body bath in my shallow stream and tiny birdbath in the backyard. I’ve also watched as a Red-bellied Woodpecker snuck a few sips from my hummingbird feeder along with the finches.
The active little Downy Woodpecker is a familiar sight at backyard feeders especially right now! This is the time they form their winter flocks and choose their winter foraging grounds. Keep your suet or nut feeders full of fresh fatty foods to keep them happy.
And they’ll visit your birdbath when they are thirsty or need to clean their feathers. They just won’t frequent the bath as often as some other birds.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. I just saw a downey woodpecker drink at my bird bath. I've lived here 25 years and this was my first sighting of a woodpecker drinking at the birdbath. I often wondered if they did but now I know.

JMP said...

Thanks for answering this question! I've been into backyard birding for almost a year now. I do the whole e-bird thing, have good bins, made custom log suet feeders for the woodpeckers and attract Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Pileated WPs w/ great frequency.

Yet I've never seen a woodpecker use any one of the four (4! lol) birdbaths I placed around our property. If it ever happens, I hope I have my camera handy! ;)