What Eats Woodpeckers? (25 Animals with Pictures)

What Eats Woodpeckers

Examples of animals that eat woodpeckers include bobcats, coyotes, foxes, snakes, and hawks.

There are many animals that eat woodpeckers, but the three main predators of woodpeckers are hawks, owls, and snakes. Woodpeckers have many natural defenses against these predators, such as their camouflage coloring, acute hearing, and tough beaks and claws.

However, these predators can still kill or injure woodpeckers. In addition to the primary predators, there are also other animals that prey on woodpeckers occasionally. Let’s take a look at some of the animals that eat woodpeckers.

What Eats Woodpeckers?

1. American Marten

Scientific NameMartes americana
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeCanada, Alaska, northern New England, the Great Lakes region, and the Rocky Mountain and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges

The American marten is a small carnivorous mammal that belongs to the weasel family. These animals are found in North America and typically eat small birds, rodents, and insects. Martens have been known to kill and eat woodpeckers on occasion.

2. Barred Owl

Scientific NameStrix varia
Type of AnimalBird
Rangeeastern North America

The barred owl is a common predator of woodpeckers. It is a nocturnal hunter, so it preys on woodpeckers at night. These owls have very good hearing and can detect the sound of a woodpecker pecking on a tree from far away. When they hear this sound, they will fly to the tree and snatch the woodpecker off of the trunk.

3. Black-Footed Ferrets

Scientific NameMustela nigripes
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWyoming, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona

The black-footed ferret is a small carnivorous mammal native to North America. These ferrets are the only known species in the genus Mustela and family Mustelidae that is endemic to the continent. The black-footed ferret is listed as endangered by the IUCN and USFWS.

Related Article: Do Ferrets Kill Snakes?

4. Bobcats

Scientific NameLynx rufus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeCanada and the western USA

Although bobcats typically hunt small animals, such as rabbits and rodents, they will also eat woodpeckers on occasion. In fact, bobcats are known to prey on a variety of bird species.

Bobcats are also known to eat fruits and vegetables on occasion. While the vast majority of their diet is composed of meat, they will consume vegetation if it is available and they are hungry enough.

Related Article: Do Bobcat Eat Possums?

5. Caracals

Scientific NameCaracal caracal
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica and from the Arabian Peninsula through northwest India

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat found in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. It is also known as the desert lynx, African lynx, or Persian lynx. The caracal is a skilled hunter that preys on small-to-medium sized mammals and birds. Woodpeckers are sometimes on the menu for caracals.

Related Article: Do Caracal Kill for Fun?

6. Cooper’s Hawk

Scientific NameAccipiter cooperii
Type of AnimalBird
Rangesouthern Canada to Mexico

Cooper’s hawks are one of the main predators of woodpeckers. They are a type of hawk that is found in North America. Cooper’s hawks hunt by sitting on a perch and waiting for their prey to come close enough to strike.

When they see a woodpecker, they will swoop down and grab it with their sharp claws. Cooper’s hawks typically eat small to medium-sized birds, but they will also eat other animals such as squirrels, snakes, and lizards.

Related Article: What Eats Hawks?

7. Coyotes

Scientific NameCanis latrans
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAlaska southward into Central America, but especially on the Great Plains

These carnivorous mammals are members of the dog family and can be found throughout North and Central America. Coyotes will eat just about anything they can find, including rodents, rabbits, fruit, carrion, and, occasionally, woodpeckers.

When coyotes hunt in pairs or packs, they are successful about 50% of the time. On average, an adult coyote weighs about 35 pounds, but some have been known to reach up to 75 pounds. Females are generally smaller than males. Coyotes can live up to 14 years in the wild and have few natural predators other than humans.

Related Article: Are Coyotes Scavengers?

8. Domestic Cats

Scientific NameFelis catus
Type of AnimalMammal

Domestic cats are not a major predator of woodpeckers, but they will kill them if they can. Studies have shown that domestic cats kill more birds than any other predator in North America.

Even though domestic cats are not a major predator of woodpeckers, they can still kill them if they have the chance. A study done in North America showed that domestic cats actually kill more birds than any other type of predator. So, even though domestic cats may not be the biggest threat to woodpeckers, they are still a danger to them.

9. Eastern Screech-Owls

Scientific NameMegascops asio
Type of AnimalBird

These owls are some of the most common predators of woodpeckers. They hunt at night and use their excellent hearing to locate their prey. Eastern screech-owls typically eat small birds, but they will also eat woodpeckers if given the opportunity.When an owl hears a woodpecker drilling, it will fly to the tree and attack.

10. Garter Snakes

Scientific NameThamnophis
Type of AnimalReptile
Rangethroughout the Southeast and most of North America

Garter snakes are a common predator of woodpeckers. These snakes are found in North America and Europe, and they typically eat small birds and rodents. Woodpeckers are sometimes killed by garter snakes, but it is not a common occurrence.

11. Gopher Snake

Scientific NamePituophis catenifer
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeSouth Central and Western Canada to Northern Mexico

Gopher snakes are a type of constrictor snake that is found in North America. These snakes can grow to be quite large, with some specimens reaching lengths of over 6 feet. Gopher snakes are not venomous, but they are capable of killing and eating woodpeckers.

12. Gray Foxes

Scientific NameUrocyon cinereoargenteus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesouthern Canada

These cunning predators are known to hunt during the day and night. Gray foxes have been known to kill woodpeckers by stalking them and then pouncing on them.

The gray fox is the only member of the fox family that can climb trees. This ability gives them an advantage when hunting prey. Gray foxes are also good swimmers.

13. Great Horned Owl

Scientific NameBubo virginianus
Type of AnimalBird
Rangethroughout the continental United States, as well as in Alaska

The great horned owl is another common predator of woodpeckers. Like the barred owl, it is a nocturnal hunter that uses its excellent hearing to locate its prey. Great horned owls will also eat other birds, small mammals, and reptiles.

14. Mink

Scientific NameNeovison vison
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America

Mink are small, weasel-like animals that are found in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are excellent swimmers and climbers, and they have sharp teeth and claws. Mink typically eat rodents, but they will also eat birds, including woodpeckers.

15. Mountain Lions

Scientific NamePuma concolor
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangewestern U.S., as well as western Canada and much of Mexico

Mountain lions will occasionally eat woodpeckers. These large cats will typically eat smaller prey, such as deer and rabbits. However, they are known to kill and eat larger animals on occasion.

16. Northern Goshawk

Scientific NameAccipiter gentilis
Type of AnimalBird
Rangeacross northern America and Eurasia

The northern goshawk is a hawk that preys on woodpeckers. It is a daytime hunter, so it is active during the day when woodpeckers are most active. These hawks will perch in trees and wait for woodpeckers to fly by. When they see one, they will swoop down and catch it in their talons.

17. Peregrine Falcons

Scientific NameFalco peregrinus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeAppalachian Mountains

Peregrine falcons are one of the main predators of woodpeckers. They are fast, agile hunters that can swoop down and catch a woodpecker in midair. Peregrine falcons typically hunt during the day, so woodpeckers must be on the lookout for them at all times.

18. Polecats

Scientific NameMustela putorius
Type of AnimalMammal

The Eurasian polecat is a member of the weasel family and is found throughout Europe and Asia. In some parts of its range, it is also called a fitch or fitchet. The polecat is a nocturnal predator that preys on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Woodpeckers are sometimes taken as prey, but they are not a preferred food source.

19. Raccoons

Scientific NameProcyon lotor
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America

Raccoons are one of the predators of woodpeckers. Raccoons are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and animals. Raccoons will often kill small animals, such as rodents and birds, for food. Woodpeckers are sometimes on the menu for raccoons.

20. Rats

Scientific NameRattus
Type of AnimalMammal

Rats will eat just about anything, including woodpeckers. In fact, rats are one of the most common predators of woodpeckers. They will kill and eat both adult and baby woodpeckers.

21. Red Foxes

Scientific NameVulpes vulpes
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethroughout the continental United States from Alaska to Florida

Though not a common predator of woodpeckers, red foxes will feed on these birds if the opportunity presents itself.

22. Red-Tailed Hawk

Scientific NameButeo jamaicensis
Type of AnimalBird
Rangeall over the continent, in Central America, and in the West Indies

The red-tailed hawk is another type of hawk that preys on woodpeckers. It is a daytime hunter that likes to perch in trees and wait for its prey. When it sees a woodpecker, it will dive down and catch it in its talons.

23. Squirrels

Scientific NameSciuridae
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeevery continent except Australia and Antarctica

Squirrels are actually one of the main predators of woodpeckers. Squirrels will often times eat woodpeckers eggs and nestlings.

Related Article: What Eats Squirrels?

24. Stoats

Scientific NameMustela erminea
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America, Europe, and Asia

The stoat is another member of the weasel family and is found throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. In Europe, it is also known as the ermine. The stoat is a small mammal that preys on rodents, rabbits, and other small animals. Woodpeckers are sometimes taken as prey, but they are not a preferred food source.

25. Wild Cats

Scientific NameFelis silvestris
Type of AnimalMammal

Wildcats, including bobcats and lynxes, will eat woodpeckers on occasion. These wild cats are good climbers and can catch woodpeckers off guard.


Woodpeckers are prey for many animals in the wild. Some of these natural predators include Cooper’s hawks, Great horned owls, black-footed ferrets, caracals and bobcats. Domestic cats and dogs have also been known to prey on woodpeckers.

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