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Downy woodpecker drumming on nestbox (1 Viewer)

MrBJones

Well-known member
Last year I put up a downy woodpeckers nestbox that I built from plans and mounted it in an ok tree about 10' off the ground. Although the tree frequently had downies in it, none gave the box second look; I thought maybe because it was too close to busy feeder. But now, for a couple days, a downy has been on it multiple times a day, drumming. Could this mean he/she intends to nest in it? Maybe I should load it with sawdust (easy to do, the top is hinged)...

What do you think?
 

fugl

Well-known member
Last year I put up a downy woodpeckers nestbox that I built from plans and mounted it in an ok tree about 10' off the ground. Although the tree frequently had downies in it, none gave the box second look; I thought maybe because it was too close to busy feeder. But now, for a couple days, a downy has been on it multiple times a day, drumming. Could this mean he/she intends to nest in it? Maybe I should load it with sawdust (easy to do, the top is hinged)...

What do you think?

The choice was probably for the loud resonant sound produced by drumming on a hollow box. Woodpeckers of many species are well-known for selecting drumming sites of other kinds —e. g. flat metal signs—for their sound qualities. It’s conceivable that your bird will use your box for nesting but there’s no particular reason to think it will. Both sexes typically peck-out roosting holes year-round so there are likely to be cavities suitable for nesting elsewhere in the territory. But, regardless, putting sawdust in your nestbox won’t do any harm. . ..
 
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KC Foggin

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I once read an article in a bird magazine that said their drumming was to attract a mate for breeding. Don't know if it is accurate or not.
 

fugl

Well-known member
I once read an article in a bird magazine that said their drumming was to attract a mate for breeding. Don't know if it is accurate or not.

According to BNA-online that’s one possible function, KC, but others have been proposed. Sounds like Downies just like to drum and any excuse will serve. . .. ;)

“Both sexes drum. . ..Drumming occurs year-round, but seems to be more intensive in winter and spring. Functions proposed for Downy Woodpecker drumming include:
(1) establishing and defending territories
(2) attracting mates
(3) maintaining contact with mates
(4) promoting or strengthening pair bonds
(5) signaling readiness for copulation (19).
Duet drumming suggested to play a role in nest-site selection or in maintaining a pair bond. Drumming seems to occur least frequently in fall and more often from January to May, especially during courtship and early nesting in New York and New Hampshire, but in Kentucky, Mahan found no seasonal differences in drumming rate. Drumming rate may also vary with mating status of males and with availability of nest sites”.
 
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