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!!

  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.

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