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Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris)

© Howell & Webb, 1995
Ladder-backed Woodpecker whinny call - Celestun
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Ladder-backed Woodpecker downslurred call - Celestun
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Song Description:

The voice of the Ladder-backed Woodpecker, like its appearance, is not altogether different from that of the northern resident Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus). Common calls include a loud staccato whinny, a quieter downslurred chatter call and a variety of sharp pik notes.

The tree drumming pattern of this species is sporadic and inconsistent, with drums often clustered into groups of three or four.

Song Measures:

The whinny call is composed of a series of 20 nearly identical syllables, repeated in rapid succession at a rate of nine syllables per second.  The upper frequency of these syllables declines steadily (but subtly) from 4600 Hz to 3200 Hz as the call progresses.

The downslurred call lasts approximately 0.5 seconds, and can be given as frequently as one per second. The peak amplitude is always at the beginning of the downslurred call and amplitude drops off quickly as the pitch lowers (N = seven calls possibly from two different individuals).

Singing Behaviour:

I heard the whinny call given three times when a woodpecker was otherwise silent.  All three times the call was not repeated.  The downslurred call I heard on two occasions; the bird repeated the call two and five times immediately prior to a long flight away from a trunk where it had been feeding.


I found Ladder-backed Woodpeckers frequenting dead branches and trunks of deciduous trees within the mangrove forests near Celestun.

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