A test of an environmental advertisement hypothesis for the function of drumming in Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers

TitleA test of an environmental advertisement hypothesis for the function of drumming in Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1997
AuthorsEberhardt LSusan
JournalThe Condor
Volume99
Pagination798-803
KeywordsENVIRONMENT
Abstract

The woodpecker drum is unusual among avian acoustic display because woodpeckers employ material outside their own bodies to produce sound. This allows an opportunity for acoustic analysis of instruments used for drumming that is not possible with other types of acoustic display. Examination of the drum sites of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus varius) revealed that sapsuckers do not use drumming to advertise the presence of nesting and feeding sites in their environment. Controlled hits on a variety of substrates in the sapsuckers' environment were used to compare acoustic properties of spots chosen for drumming to other non-drum spots. In general, sapsuckers drummed in locations that could produce louder and longer lasting sounds than surrounding non-drum substrate including nest trees, feeding trees, and other substrate near the site of drumming. My evidence suggests that sapsucker drumming is an acoustic signal designed for long distance transmission.