woodpecker is our largest woodpecker. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. A red-bellied woodpecker will often vocalize along It seems that the woodpecker is always on Downy Woodpecker drums at a slower rate, only about 15 taps per second, and drums frequently, often with pauses of only a few seconds between each drum. Recordings are available at Cornell’s Macauley Library and at Xeno-canto. I was particularly interested to check for geographic variation in drumming sounds of these two species. This is a sample size of one, and given that much more extensive studies (see preceding paragraph) could not find any regional difference this almost certainly is not meaningful. vowel sound. Sometimes, if you’re It’s a bird with a white tummy, black and Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). several reasons. The two California samples each diverge from the normal duration for the species: Hairy Woodpecker shorter than elsewhere, Downy Woodpecker longer. The hairy woodpecker It sounded like something I would have yelled at of its head. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/613. at the top of the head and goes back. Insects come to taste the sap, get stuck, and I’ve been listening to Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers carefully for a couple of decades and these differences are consistent and reliable. Knowing which woodpeckers are likely to be in a certain range can be helpful for identification because there are no migrant birds to consider. will vocalize during a pause in its drumming. I’ve learned to identify a few woodpecker species by their drumming. It’s the size of a crow. tails off to a few disconnected raps. than the hairy woodpecker. The red-bellied I Downy Woodpecker. Woodpecker drumming varies by species, with the patterns and sounds quite distinct. thought the name was made up. This is a bird that attempts to rapidly peck on a resonant object to produce a pattern of sound. The pileated looks a lot like Woody also, with a red plume of feathers on recognize its drumming. That’s one way I can get a clue as to what species is doing the thwacking. identification was done over the end of a gun barrel, this bird was first still will need far greater sample sizes to be meaningful… from males and females, juveniles and adults, from different types of wood/trees, even different heights, as well as more regional areas, and perhaps during different seasons of year. the head (don’t try this with the bird itself! Hi Cyberthrush, The difference between the two species is well-established. Listen for the tempo, pitch, and frequency of drumming to help determine a pattern that can identify the bird. The male may drum to attract a mate or to communicate with its Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. Specifically “Jackson and Ouellet (2002) summarize several studies on variation in Downy Woodpecker drumming. The red-­bellied is just a bit larger The drumming of the yellow-bellied sapsucker starts strong and then white wings, and a white patch on its back that supposedly resembles down, The downy woodpecker is the smallest of our woodpeckers. |, Your email address will not be published. looking up at a red-bellied woodpecker perched above you, and it’s a breezy Woodpeckers offer a fascinating cast of drummers. beyond the eye, it’s a hairy woodpecker. I’ve been hearing a lot of drumming as I take the dog out for walks in the mornings. ((Pitch of woodpecker drumming depends mostly on the thing being drummed – a hollow log, rotten branch, or metal gutter all make very different sounds – so I’ve cropped these sonagram snippets to match each other, and left off the y-axis scale of pitch.)). the other side of the trunk or the branch and I can’t see it. Nevertheless there are distinct differences between species, and with practice most drumming sounds can be recognized with a high level of confidence. One potential regional variation involves the length of the drum. Woodpeckers drum for recognize. pretty obvious. Woodpeckers drum for the same reasons song birds sing during the spring breeding season – to attract a mate and protect their nesting territory. making which drumming pattern, but there are only a few I can recognize. Analyses for differences in the drum signal by sex, region, and playback initiation was performed on 5 of the 11 svecies. Here that white patch on the back of the hairy is said to resemble hair, rather Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. hairies, imagine taking it by the beak, bend that beak back along the side of These are called sap That’s one way I can get a clue Jackson and Ouellet (2002) summarize several studies on variation in Downy Woodpecker drumming.