If you feed hummingbirds sugar water, you know that hummingbird feeders attract a variety of other critters. 

       Right now my wife, Donna, and I are chagrined because house finches seem to be eating more than their share of the nectar contained in a feeder hanging in our backyard.  To add insult to injury, the voracious finches also chase away any hummingbirds that fly in for a quick meal.

       This past winter a Baltimore oriole fed daily at a feeder hanging in our backyard.  Although we tried to coax it to eat grape jelly, this finicky bird showed nothing but distain for this often-reliable oriole food.

       From time to time, we have see butterflies at our feeders.  Most often these infrequent visitors are red-banded hairstreaks and cloudless sulphurs.

       Gray squirrels also raid our feeders from time to time.  As you might expect when they try to rob a feeder they end up with more sticky nectar on their bodies than in the mouth. 

       Once while we were a church,  a squirrel visited a backyard hummingbird feeder and chewed up a portion of the artificial flower surrounding the feeding portal.

       Folks that live in North Georgia sometimes have black bears try to drink from their hummingbird feeders.  When this happens, often the hungry behemoths leave behind a damaged feeder.

       The other day Ron Lee told me that for the past several days he and his wife had been enjoying watching a downy woodpecker regularly visit their hummingbird feeder.  When I told Ron that I had never seen a downy at a hummingbird feeder he promptly sent me a picture to document this apparently rare occurrence.

       If woodpeckers have ever visited your hummingbird feeders, I would love to hear from you.  In the meantime, I will keep my eyes on my feeders.  Perhaps I will lucky enough to see a downy woodpecker fly in for a meal.  If one does show up, I hope it does not try to chase the hummingbirds away.


  1. We have been seeing a downy on our hummingbird feeder! I asked my cousin, an avid birder, if this was normal, and she sent me to this link. We live near Covington, GA and have one hummingbird feeder hanging up and one on a table. The one on the table is where we have seen them sipping. I have a photo, but don’t know how to submit it here.

      • For the first time in 10 yrs. of putting out a hummingbird feeder. I am getting downy woodpeckers drinking from it on a daily basis. I’m in Roswell, GA. I’m hoping they aren’t chasing away the hummingbirds. If so, I will need to get a different feeder that they can’t perch on.

    • Every day about 4 visits per hour with a new family of Downys. First year it is so attractive to them. I took the feeder down for a couple of hours and they all went crazy imagining that it was still there. I’m moving to a disk to allow short hummers and not larger birds to poke their head over the openings.

      • I have had Downy woodpeckers all season this year and I am in Midwestern Michigan. Our hummingbirds are becoming brave enough to sit on the other side of the feeder while a Downy is feeding.

    • I just saw a downy woodpecker at my hummingbird feeder here in CT. I’ve never seen anything like it. He must have a sore beak because the decorative flower feeding ports are metal!

      • Also in CT, watching a downy drink from the hummingbird feeder. First year we noticed it.

    • This is the first year I have seen downy woodpeckers at my hummingbird feeder’s. There are two who feed regularly.

  2. Have one here in Massachusetts! Spends quite a long time per visit. Hummingbird doesn’t seem to worry about it. It won’t share, but it comes back after the woodpecker is gone.

    • Michael,

      Thanks for you post. I thought that downy woodpeckers only visited hummer feeders once in a while. Your experience shows that idea is wrong.


    • Dorothy,

      Wow! You are the 3rd person to tell me that a downy visited their hummingbird feeder. It would appear the birds do this more often than we thought.


  3. The Halsema family has a beautiful set of Downy woodpeckers. They share the three feeder with the 12 hummingbirds. Here in Huntsville mo this is the first year they decided to visit.

    • Debbie,

      Thanks for the information about downies using your hummer feeder. My cousin that lives in Massachusetts sees them there too. I wonder if New England hummer exhibit this behavior more than others.

      On another note, I worked one summer on the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Calais. That summer I discovered how beautiful Maine is in the summer.


      • NW Jersey girl here. So OMG… Yesterday I saw a bird that was not a hummer on my hummingbird feeder under my front porch. It took a few secs to figure out what it was – a Downy. I was shocked. The feeder was empty with all the heat so I refilled it. Now I’ll keep my eye out to see if he comes back. I googled do downy woodpeckers feed from hummingbird feeders and found your site. Had to move all my feeders back in May from my front porch and Japanese Maple to my second story gutter because a bear tore down the 1 feeder hanging in the tree – caught him in the act and went outside to politely tell him to leave.

  4. I have had a downy woodpecker at my hummingbird feeder two days in a row. He/they comes to eat diet multiple times a day, but yesterday and this morning they are also hiring the hummingbird feeders i put up last week. I haven’t been able to get a pic yet though. I googled it and found this page.

    • Neogrinch,

      It is amazing how many folks have reported downies feeding at hummer feeders. It just goes to show that multiple critters often benefit from our trying to feed just one species.


  5. April 18, 2021 at 9:25 AM
    I have seen only one hummingbird pass by my feeder this spring, but downy woodpeckers seem to truly enjoy the sugar water. They perch for a few minutes with each visit. They have been visiting my suet feeders all winter and have now found a new treat in my backyard. I was glad to see a message stating the hummers would simply wait to feed until the woodpeckers left. This is a new hummingbird feeder that I hope will serve the hummers. The squirrels dropped last year’s to the ground and broke it.

  6. I have numerous downy woodpeckers on the feeder everyday. Better on the feeder then pecking on my house!

  7. Winifred,

    I am sure your hummingbird feeder will serve many hummers this year as well as a few downies. As we know, they can get along. As for squirrels, that is a different matter.


  8. We just had a downy woodpecker at our hummingbird feeder in southern Indiana. We’ve put feeders out for years and years and this is the first time we’ve seen this.

  9. Downy woodpecker sipping from my feeders as i type this… visits every day!
    I’m on the Outer Banks of NC.

  10. I just had a Downy woodpecker at my hummingbird feeder. I didn’t know what type of bird it was at first, I had to use Google lens on my phone. We live in the country now for the past 9 months and have seen so many woodpeckers, but not this kind. It was so awesome to see. I’m in Bedford, Indiana.

    • Jackie,

      Thank you very much for sharing your downy woodpecker sighting. I am always happy to see a downy in my yard. It is especially nice to see a downy, or other bird, in a spot you don’t expect to see. I know you will see lots of fascinating things your yard in the future. I hope you will continue to share them with others.


  11. I have what seems to be a single user hummingbird feeder. The one hummingbird that uses it chases away any other hummingbird that wants to use it. All of a sudden, i now have a downy woodpecker family (or a group) using the humming bird feeder. The hummingbird still comes around, but seems to use it less. I live in Bethesda, Maryland.

    • Peter,

      Thanks for your observation. For weeks a family of downies have visited our suet feeders. It appears the parents were introducing to an unusual food source. This might be what is happening in your backyard.

  12. South central Indiana here. 2022 is the first year I have witnessed a Downy woodpecker at my hummingbird feeder multiple times.

    • Diane,

      Thank you for your report. So far, I seem to be receiving more reports of downy woodpeckers visiting hummingbird feeders than anywhere else in the country.


      • My hummingbird feeders are visited daily the past week or so here in New England. Poor bird…the feeding ports are metal! He/ she keeps pecking away!

  13. Lynsey,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Pecking on metal portals– now that is a losing proposition. I can see how it can happen, but I have never heard of downys exhibit that behavior.


  14. I am in Phoenix area and I have a daily visit of woodpecker feeding at my window hummingbird feeder.

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