Red-bellied Woodpeckers are Built to Eat

Red-bellied woodpeckers catch & cache with ease


These birds have the tools and techniques to support a varied diet year-round:


  • Sharp tongue: Extending almost two inches past the beak, their tongues can probe deep into crevices. The barbs at the end of the tongue and sticky spit help pull out any prey inside.
  • Nut cracker: These woodpeckers place large nuts in bark crevices, then smash them into edible pieces with their beaks.
  • Snack storage: When insects aren’t plentiful, they depend on food like fruits, nuts and seeds that they can cache and eat later. Having food stashed in different locations across their territory is critical when other sources of food become scarce.





Watch this woodpecker forage



Photo by Paul Dacko. Support for Bird the Preserves was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness.

Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County