Michigan Nature 101: Woodpeckers Drumming, First Signs of Spring
One of the very first signs of spring in my neck-of-the-woods is the sound of woodpeckers drumming. Why Do Woodpeckers Drum? Unlike other songbirds, woodpeckers do not have a distinctive song as part of their avian vocabulary. Instead, drumming is the way the birds communicate, and woodpeckers will drum for two main reasons:
- Attracting a mate
- Advertising a territory
When a woodpecker drums on a resonant object, the resulting sound can be heard for great distances by other birds. Other woodpeckers will recognize the sound by its pattern and tempo, and birds of the same species can be attracted to potential mates through drumming. At the same time, drumming alerts competitors that the nearby territory is claimed and can be defended by a strong, vibrant bird that can produce good drumming.
Just like bird songs, drumming is most common in spring when birds are trying to attract mates and establish territories. Woodpeckers frequently drum in the morning, though some drumming may be heard at any time of day. Both male and female birds have been known to drum.
~ Mark S. Carlson, Naturalist Photographer
eco-photo tours to scenic locations around the Great Lakes region while teaching fundamental photography skills and nature ecology. Mark’s photography is available for purchase and regularly appears in magazines, calendars, books, websites and galleries.
See Mark in action in a short video clip from the Winter Dunes Eco-Photo Excursion.