Date: March 4, 2016
Animal behavior researchers at
that the highly territorial downy woodpecker interprets drumming intensity from
adversaries to figure out who is or isn't a threat. Wake Forest
Instead of a distinctive song, woodpeckers bang on trees with their bills to create a sound called drumming. The birds use it to communicate when they want to attract a mate or defend a territory.
assistant professor of biology
Matthew Fuxjager and his research team, which consists of graduate student Eric
Schupee and several undergraduates, tested how woodpecker pairs perceived the
drumming to see how it influenced territorial interaction and coordination of
defensive behavior. Wake Forest
"Partners will actually coordinate or cooperate with how they fight depending on who they are fighting. They size up their opponent and decide whether they need to work together," Fuxjager said. "In short, it means an intruder woodpecker with a short drum is perceived as wimpier, while a long drum signifies a tough guy intruder."