What Are Woodpeckers Predators? Are Woodpeckers Protected?

On many occasions, while sitting outside in my garden, I have heard the incessant tap-tap-tap noise of a woodpecker carving its home.

Intro Video - Backtobirds
Intro Video - Backtobirds

These birds are relentless in their duties and it’s great fun to watch them at work. 

I often saw these woodpeckers pecking the trees but I never saw them hunting. This made me curious. What do woodpeckers eat? And do they sometimes become a meal?

Do woodpeckers have any predators? 

Like most birds, woodpeckers have their share of predators. They are at risk of being hunted by animals like bobcats, mountain lions, caracals, coyotes, and foxes.  

Larger birds like eagles and hawks can also prey on woodpeckers.

Other species that can efficiently climb trees – like snakes – can also reach a woodpecker’s nest and prey on an unsuspecting bird, woodpecker chicks, or their eggs. 

Are there any threats to woodpeckers?

Predatory animals and birds like eagles, snakes, and bobcats are a threat to woodpeckers. These are natural threats.

One of the strongest threats and one that is unnatural is the growing population of humans. 

Humans are taking over forest land to make houses and farms. This leads to a loss in habitat for woodpeckers. Also, humans use pesticides on farms to protect their crops. 

These pests i.e. bugs and insects actually form an important part of a woodpecker’s diet. Loss of this integral food makes it difficult for woodpeckers to survive. 

How do woodpeckers protect and avoid themselves from predators?

Woodpeckers seem to like loud birds that are always pecking trees, but that is not the case. If a woodpecker senses a predator approaching, it can flatten itself against the tree and be completely motionless. This helps hide the woodpecker. 

When a mother woodpecker is protecting her nest, she can use her hardy beak to peck the intruder and also use her claws to injure the threat. 

Related Read: Why Do Woodpeckers Peck On Houses? | How To Stop It And Get Rid Of Them:

How does a woodpecker defend itself? How do they survive in the city and forest?

Most species of woodpeckers need trees to survive. Very few species are known to survive in rocky areas like mountains where there are no trees. 

In cities, woodpeckers can survive if there are a sufficient number of trees. This is because woodpeckers peck a tree until a hole is formed and this hole is the nest of the woodpecker. 

Trees also provide protection from extreme weather and hiding places to hide from predators. Woodpeckers are also able to find their food in trees. 

Which species do woodpeckers prey on?

Woodpeckers are omnivores, which means they eat both plant matter and animals. They eat seeds, fruits, nuts, and sometimes even tree sap. 

When it comes to animals, woodpeckers mostly eat larvae and insects. But that is not all, if they are available, woodpeckers also eat eggs of birds and reptiles, baby birds, and small rodents like mice. 


Woodpeckers are unique birds, best known for their ability to carve nests in tree trunks. If you have wondered what these birds eat, it is not the bark of the trees. Woodpeckers are omnivores that eat fruits, seeds, sap, and even eggs and small rodents.

And in the cycle of nature, it is inevitable that woodpeckers become prey sometimes too.

Animals that can climb trees like bobcats and lions can eat woodpeckers. Larger birds like eagles and hawks are also predators for woodpeckers.