Woodpecker Drumming

        Red-bellied woodpeckers drum an average of 12.92 beats per drum. In the example illustrated below one drum was 12, one was 13 beats. Their drums are sometimes less than a second in length so their average is about 18 beats per second.

        Downy woodpeckers similarly drum an average of 12.7 beats per drum. In the example below there were 16 beats. Their drums are often 1.5 seconds in length. They average about 16-17 beats per second.

        It is difficult to tell red-bellied and downy Woodpecker drumming apart. They drum at similar rates. The downy is a bit slower though and it’s drum is usually a bit longer duration.

        Hairy woodpeckers average 24.29 beats per drum. In the example below there were 24 beats. Their drums are about 1 second in length. Hairy woodpeckers drum at a much faster rate than red-bellied and downy’s and have longer pauses between drums.

        The Sapsucker drum is very distinctive. The drums are slow (4-6 beats/second), irregular and often last for several seconds.

        Pileated woodpeckers and northern flickers have similar drums. The flicker’s averages about 25 beats per second and lasts about 1 second. The pileated woodpecker’s drum is more variable in speed (11-30 beats per drum) and duration (up to 3 seconds). The flicker’s drum has a very steady tempo whereas the pileated accelerates slightly at the end.


        .75 sec to > 1 sec duration
        18 beats per second (Pieplow 2017)
        Average 12.92 beats per/drum
        Only males drum
        Drum year-round, more during breeding season

        March 2, 2021 – Long Creek Park

        March 2, 2021 (2) – Long Creek Park


        1.5 second duration
        17.1 beats/second
        12.7 beats per drum
        9-15 bursts/minute
        Both sexes drum
        Duet drumming
        Drum year-round, more in winter and spring

        March 24, 2022 – Long Creek Park
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        April 11, 2022 – Reynolda


        1 second duration
        24.29 beats /drum
        Both sexes drum
        Drum year-round

        April 13, 2021 – Long Creek Park
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        Both downy and hairy are drumming in the recording below.

        March 5, 2023 – Reynolda


        4-6 beats per/second, irregular
        Mostly by males


        11-30 beats/drum (Short 1982)
        .7 – 3 sec duration (Kilham 1959a)
        40-60 sec intervals
        Slight acceleration at end
        Both sexes drum, males more
        Drum year-round, more in early spring

        February 14, 2023 – Long Creek Park

        Northern Flicker

        1.07 sec duration
        25.01 beats per drum roll
        Steady tempo
        Both sexes drum
        Usually in conjunction with long call