West Indian Woodpecker Melanerpes superciliaris
Version: 2.0 — Published October 29, 2020
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Sounds and Vocal Behavior
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Sounds and Vocal Behavior
Vocalizations of West Indian Woodpecker are poorly known, but appear to be similar to those of Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) and other similar Melanerpes species. Relatively few recordings are available in online repositories, and likely represent only a portion of the entire repertoire of the species. More work is needed to fill in these gaps, and to allow comparison of vocalizations between populations on various island groups.
Kwirr. This is often described as the churr call, a loud, rolling call lasting ca 0.25-0.3 s with a vaguely screaming quality, typically given in a series of 3-6 notes but sometimes singly. Slightly higher pitched than the similar call of Red-bellied Woodpecker (M. carolinus), with slightly finer modulations to the call imparting a less mellow quality to the notes. According to Kirkconnell (40), this call is given more frequently by males, but it is also often used by females.
Chuckle. Typically a rattling series of short cha notes, lasting anywhere between 0.3-8s or more. Kirkconnell (40) describes this as the kra-kra-kra call, explaining that a sequence of three syllables is often produced. Similar to the analogous calls in Red-bellied Woodpecker, but like the Kwirr, slightly higher-pitched.
Other calls. Though no recordings exist, likely has several other calls analogous to those in closely related species, including Wicka, Bark, and Churr series. Also expected to have distinctive nestling and juvenile vocalizations, as in other woodpecker species, but no recordings or information available.
None known, but should be investigated between populations in the Bahamas and on Cuba and the Cayman Islands.
Daily Pattern of Vocalizing
Places of Vocalizing
Kwirr call typically given by perched birds, but Chuckle (usually shorter versions) sometimes given in flight.
Little information, though Kirkconnell (40) indicates that Kwirr given more often by the male.
Repertoire and Delivery of Songs
Social Context and Presumed Functions of Vocalizations
Kwirr calls presumably used to find a mate during courtship and for mutual recognition, and to attract a mate to the nest cavity, as in Red-bellied Woodpecker. Chuckle calls are used as a location call given by the members of a pair, and is important for nest exchange and for locating a mate at a distance (40, 41). A shorter version of the Chuckle call is given in flight, and is associated with alarm or excitement. It may also be used when supplanting another bird.
Drum. Produced by rapid tapping on a resonant surface such as a dead tree or utility pole to produce a steady roll (8), at a rate of c 17 strokes per second (n = 2). As in closely related Melanerpes, Drum is relatively short, between c 0.5-1.2s. Used for territorial defense, mate attraction and to locate a mate (40). Drumming is used by both males and females, and may be followed with Kwirr or Chuckle calls.
Knocking. Loud tapping from inside of the nest cavity may be used for nest exchange during incubation (40).