A hungry woodpecker

Is That A Downy Woodpecker Drumming?

Have you watched a woodpecker?

I tried yesterday to get a video when we spotted ( and heard) a woodpecker in the backyard trees. He was high up and just drumming against the bark of the tree with his little beak. Sounded like a machine since he goes so fast.

But of course, by the time I got the camera, found it again in the trees, then found it through the camera lens ( I have the most difficulty with this), it had flown away. So I gave up and just continued with lunch.

I will get you on video one of these days, woodpecker!

However, I wanted to learn more about woodpeckers, and since the weather has been so unpredictable here in Ohio, (meaning really cold one day and pleasantly mild the next), I decided to make coffee and cuddle up under a quilt and see what I could learn about those woodpeckers.

I am not sure which variety of woodpecker we saw, but I think it was a hairy woodpecker due to its size and coloring. There is a smaller one called a downy woodpecker too. I know this guy or gal had a red spot on its head, but otherwise its coloring made it seem to blend in with the bare trees here.


I hadn’t noticed any woodpeckers at the feeders, but our feeder is in a position where I can’t easily see it. And besides that, we have a lot of trees around and near us where the birds find insects in the  wood and eat them, so woodpeckers do have a buffet in the woods. They also eat berries and nuts.

But woodpeckers and other birds do help in the control of the population of many insects by eating the larvae and/or the insects which they find in the trees. I hope they are eating the larvae of any of the invasive insects which has caused us to lose so many trees.

If you have heard the woodpecker drumming ( and hopefully it isn’t drumming on your house), it really has a fast and machine-like speed. And those holes can really get large if they keep working at it. But what can you do? They have made a lot of holes on our barn out back but haven’t, so far, started on our house.

The speed of their drumming is very fast. The various species can be identified by the speed of their drumming. Here is a site where you can listen to the difference in the drumming. There is a small toggle under the chart so you can hear it over and over.  

                 recorded sounds of drumming woodpeckers

Is That A Woodpecker Drumming-The Hypertufa gardener

Strange Facts about Woodpeckers

These birds can peck or drum as quickly as 20 times per second! But this doesn’t hurt them like it would a human going that fast. Imagine how we’d look moving that fast! A woodpecker’s brain is specially cushioned by a cartilage between the bill and skull to absorb the shock of impact.

And get this! Each blow is delivered at an exact 90° angle.

And their tongues! They are sticky, and barbed and about 4 inches long so that they can reach the insect or larvae they are searching out. But the drumming noise is to attract females and to communicate through their territory.

Next time you see one of these woodpeckers, check them out. Interesting birds. And you will see them right side up or upside down too. They have what is called zygodactyl feet. Their toes face both front and back which enable them to grip trees and poles vertically. So you are seeing them scampering up and down the tree bark, sometimes head-down. Just another day in the woods for them.

Who knew? 


  1. my lil cousin will love this! he loves reading about animals of all shapes and sizes. Was so great to read more about the woodpecker, always takes me back to the woody the woodpecker cartoons.

  2. I love woodpeckers. We have a few that return every year to our yard and I love listening to them

    1. Yes, it is so natural sitting on the deck listening to a woodpecker in the trees.

  3. Very informative article! I’m not sure if there are woodpeckers in our country but I would love to see one someday. I love that your place is surrounded by nature, I dream to live in that kind of environment someday.

    1. Thanks, and I don’t know what I would do without my trees. I am a country girl at heart.

  4. Kathy Kenny Ngo says:

    Woodpecker is such a lovely bird. I love the drumming too!

  5. kean raph says:

    This is an awesome post, I bet this is a beautiful bird.

  6. We have a woodpecker in our neighborhood that is very fond of one of our trees. I actually like his drumming.

    1. We have a lot of dying ash trees all over the county, so we can listen to them all the time. Really different sound on a dead old tree.

  7. I have always loved woodpeckers. They’re so neat! I’ve never been able to get a nice photo of them though. I need to look out for them more. They’re so pretty too!

    1. They are a great bird to watch, and listen to, for that matter.

  8. Since watching Woody Woodpecker as a child I have been fascinated by woodpeckers, unfortunately though, where I live, I see very few of them.

    1. Yes, I do remember Woody. Silly cartoon, but that’s what we liked as kids.

  9. What an interesting post! 20 times a second. That’s hard to imagine. I think it’s a beautiful bird.

    1. It is interesting. And hard to believe. But when you hear it drumming, you can tell how fast it is.

  10. Woodpeckers are fascinating creatures! I really like that you posted something like this, it’s good to learn more about them! I didn’t know that they were very good at reducing insects and worms, it would be nice to have them in the garden if that’s the case.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  11. Not sure if we have that specie of woodpecker here in the Philippines, it look so colorful and for sure I wanted to see one.

    1. Probably not, but I am sure you have some exotic birds there. I would love to see them.

  12. Karlyn Cruz says:

    Oh, such a cute wonders of nature. I want to see one in person, such a beauty!

    1. They are a truly beautiful bird. That flash of red in the snow is great.

  13. Elizabeth O. says:

    I didn’t know this much information about woodpeckers! They are quite interesting birds and it would be nice to have them around especially if you have a garden. Helps get rid of the insects and what not!

    1. Thanks. I see so many of them….and hear them all the time. They can get quite loud.

  14. I have lived in the city most of my life and I have never seen a woodpecker in the flesh. I have seen videos of them and they are amazing animals. I didn’t know their feet were that way. I guess it was made to be that way for them to be able to look for food and survive.

    1. Thanks for your visit and comment. I learned so much about the woodpecker when I researched. We have quite a lot of them in our back yard and woods.

  15. We dont have them where I live but I’d love if we do, they are so cute!!

  16. We here woodpeckers quite a lot here in New England. But I rarely see one, ever. The trees where we live are very high up. beautiful birds

    1. Beautiful, but noisy when they start drumming. Most especially when it is on your house!

  17. Where I live, we don’t have woodpeckers, but I’ve seen them on videos. We used to have African Lovebirds and it always relaxed me to watch them.

  18. Those birds are so differents. I didn’t see one of those before in my life. They are so beautiful!

  19. Robin Masshole Mommy says:

    Woodpeckers are so cool, aren’t they? I would love to see one in real life.

  20. Kim- I love our woodpeckers! We too, have lots of trees for them to forage but I have a couple that come to the feeder. I have identified the downy, the hairy, the flicker, the red bellied and the red-headed. I have even seen a pileated, which is endangered. I didn’t know about their toes! So interesting!

    1. Thanks for coming by, Laura! I wanted so much to have a video of the bird hopping upside down up and down the tree. But I was just not quick enough. But I learned a lot when I started reading about them. Go BBB!

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