Although the red-bellied woodpecker is notorious for caching food, backyard wildlife watchers rarely see this fascinating behavior.  However, if you would like to watch a red-bellied woodpecker in the act of storing food, there is no better time to do so than right now.

The reason for this is, in spite of the fact that the woodpecker caches food throughout the entire year, it does so more often during the fall.  With that in mind, during the next several weeks, whenever you see a red-bellied woodpecker carrying something in its bill, follow its flight.  If the bird happens to land, see if it tries to shove the item into a tree crack or crevice (the bird will even stash food in wood posts and buildings), more than likely you have witnessed caching. The list of items stored by this woodpecker includes acorns, nuts, seeds, fruits, fruit pulp, kernels of corn, suet, peanut butter, whole peanuts, and even insects. 

   It has been reported that a captive red-bellied woodpecker even cached toothpicks and nails.

       For some reason, unlike many birds that cache food, the red-bellied woodpecker rarely vigorously defends its stored its  food treasures from would-be robbers.

       If you happen to witness a red-bellied woodpecker caching food, please let me know.


  1. I just joined your site, and it is funny you posted about a bird that, just a few months, I noticed at one of my feeders. I will have to start watching them better. Thank you for this insight!!

    • It is the 23rd of February, 2023 here, in the lowcountry of South Carolina. The temperature is 73 degrees and sunny. I caught a glimpse of a red bellied woodpecker caching food multiple times back and forth to the same cedar tree this morning and thought it strange. It is like Spring at the moment with all of our azaleas and bulbs blooming and I wondered since this bird usually does its caching in the fall, if it knows we may have a cold temp drop and that will hinder its food sources.

      • Thank you so much for your response. Red-bellied woodpeckers are known to cache food throughout all seasons. However, the woodpecker does so more often in the fall. You are the first of our fellow bloggers to report in the late winter, though from you description it seems that spring has already arrived in your neighborhood.


  2. I have been watching one from my window go back and forth from my feeder to our maple tree in front caching away seeds. I wasn’t sure they did this, so I searched to make sure that was what I was watching and found your site.

  3. We have a red bellied woodpecker who has been a regular at our suet feeder year-round…beginning around 2 weeks ago, we noticed that (s)he was regularly taking food from the suet and sunflower feeders and taking it to a specific spot on our external vertical cedar siding…wince then, he repeats this behaviour several times for a couple of days…then no activity for a few more …then he’s back at it…
    After watching a nuthatch exhibit the same behaviour at a tree near our feeder, we guessed he was caching food for the winter…
    Thanks for confirming!

  4. I saw a red bellied cache an acorn in a tree next to the New River at Foster Falls, VA on Oct. 23. Very cool.

  5. We live in the Poconos, high on a ridge on many acres in a remote location. We are blessed with a great number and variety of birds including red bellied woodpeckers who love our feeders. This morning I noticed one of the males returning time and time again to one of the feeders I watched him carefully and he returned to the same crack in one of our big maples time and again. This went on until I lost count at 15 trips. I googled whether these birds cache food and found your site. I have loads of photos of a family this summer, raised two young a male and a female, the parents brought them to our feeders and taught them how to eat. It was a magical summer.

  6. i watched a red bellied woodpecker take a hunk of suet and take it up in the tree and push it in a branch just now. Found this site when I googled whether he was “hoardin” food.

  7. I have a red bellied woodpecker that I named Dickie. He’s hiding food in the crevice between my shed doors. Ok, cool but.. I’m afraid when I open the doors to put stuff away for the winter his stash is going to come tumbling down. I hope that doesn’t happen because he has worked so very hard for many days now. Also, he’s my sweetie and I just love him and all his funny ways.

  8. Coldcat,

    This is the first time I have ever heard of this behavior. I hope you work things out for him. I wish I had an answer to this problem. Hopefully you will be able to solve this problem before winter sets in.


  9. I’ve observed a red bellied hiding seeds in the bark and crevices of a cherry tree near the feeder in the past few days. Seems the jays are annoyed as he does this, and they might be doing the same, although they seem to take three or four seeds at a time and take off with them… he just finds the closest hidey hole…

  10. Hi, are you still looking for woodpeckers stashing food? I took a video of one taking food from my feeder and putting it in a tree. Another woodpecker (can’t see any red, it looks like the same bird/size) flew up to meet him on the tree, like he was taking food to her. He put some food in the tree, then took some food from the tree and put it in her mouth, but she looks too big to be a baby. He did this several times, coming to my feeder, eating a bite or two, then taking some in his beak back to the tree & his friend.

    • Jennifer,

      That is fascinating. I have never seen this before. The only two reasons for this behavior are either one bird was feeding another young or exchanging food as part of a mating ritual. I will have to research it. Thanks for sharing your great sighting with me.


  11. We have a red bellied woodpecker that successfully finds the peanuts in our tube feeders filled with a mix of nuts and seeds. It will fly to the same tree then return immediately to get another peanut so we assume it is has a cache (Ithaca,NY).

  12. I see them all year, but like you said, more so in the Autumn and Winter. I saw one on 12/24/2022 busily stashing an assortment of food from my different feeders.

  13. Catherine,

    Thank you for your comments. You have definitely verified caching throughout the year. It is interesting that the birds continue caching into winter.


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