Remember that time you were hiking along in the spring and the musical spring song of a woodpecker caught your ear? Well if you don't have a recollection of that, it’s because Woodpeckers, unlike most other birds, don't sing to mark their territories. Unlike other songbirds, woodpeckers do not have a distinctive song as part of their vocabulary. Instead, drumming is the way these birds communicate.
If you have to rapidly bang your head against something hard to communicate, you need a good reason to do it. As it turns out, Woodpeckers only drum for two main reasons, one to attract a mate, and two, to advertise or claim a territory.
According to Mellissa Mayntz on an internet site called The Spruce, “In addition to these primary reasons (for drumming), drumming can also be more localized communication. Mated woodpeckers may use drumming to let one another know about a food source or to summon help at the nest.” (So, a mated woodpecker bangs his head more often than a single woodpecker) A woodpecker may also drum to raise an alarm about a predator lurking nearby. When a woodpecker drums on a resonant object, the resulting sound can be heard for great distances by other birds. Other woodpeckers will recognize the sound by its pattern and tempo. Birds of the same species can be attracted to potential mates through drumming. At the same time, drumming alerts competitors that the nearby territory is claimed and can be defended by a strong, vibrant bird that can produce good drumming. The quality of the drumming, including its volume and number of repetitions, all help advertise the health, strength, and dominance of the bird making these woodpecker sounds.”
Just like bird songs, drumming is most common in late winter and early spring when birds are trying to attract mates and establish territories. Woodpeckers frequently drum in the morning, though some drumming may be heard at any time of day. Both male and female birds have been known to drum.