We investigated whether woodpecker drums are exchanged interspecifically and attempted to ascertain the drum variables responsible for species recognition. Playback experiments were conducted on four woodpecker species (Nuttall's Picoides nuttallii, White-headed P. albolarvatus, Hairy P. villosus, and Downy P. pubescens Woodpeckers) comparing behavioral responses to sympatric hetero- and conspecific drums. There was a significant difference in behavioral responses to sympatric hetero- versus conspecific drums; individuals responded less intensely to drums of heterospecifics when drum cadences were dissimilar. Allopatric species drums with similar cadences were used to examine whether cadence was a variable that encodes species identity. There was no significant difference between responses to allopatric hetero- versus conspecific drums with a similar cadence, indicating that the drum's cadence encodes information for species recognition. Further playbacks eliminated drum duration and spectral properties as important variables for species recognition. Results suggest that if an individual drums at a similar cadence to a sympatric heterospecific, then their signal may elicit a conspecific response.
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Vol. 103 • No. 1