Can you hear the beat of the drum?

The days are becoming longer and we are waking up to the sound of the Dawn Chorus, Spring has already begun and the breeding season has kicked in, changes in behaviour, birds are looking their best with their plumage looking stunning, and throughout the day we can hear male birds ‘singing’ to attract a mate or let rivals know that this territory is occupied.  But for one favourite garden bird, the Great Spotted Woodpecker does something a little different, it drums!

The Great Spotted Woodpecker makes a ‘Drumming’ sound by hammering their bills against deadwood 10-20 times over 2-3 seconds. They will usually choose an old tree with a hollow trunk to ensure the sound is enhanced and can be heard over long distances. In an RSPB article, they state “in an average day a male woodpecker will drum up to 600 times to attract a mate” But how do they do this without hurting themselves? Apparently “Woodpeckers have shock-absorbent tissue between the base of the bill and the skull to cushion the impact of drumming”

Both Sexes incubate the clutch of eggs, these are white and take about 12 days to hatch and both parents will look after the brood for about 10 days after they leave the nest, the fledglings quickly become independent.

It is therefore important for old trees with hollow branches to be left in situ to provide natural nesting sites, below is an image of a woodpecker hole in one of the trees on the farm. 

Great Spotted Woodpecker numbers have increased over recent years and they have now become a regular site visiting our gardens for Peanuts, Suet Balls or Suet Blocks.