Woodpecker 5.13-1It has now become clear that the insistent purring noise deep within the nest-hole  is not made by the adult woodpeckers singing restful lullabies to the chicks. That was my vivid and homely imagination. It’s the chicks themselves!

By last night the sound had become louder – I could hear it 15 feet away from the tree. And instead of one agglomerated soft churring sound, it had become fragmented, like several very tiny contented cats being stroked simultaneously. There is a great deal of parental activity, and every morning the parents have a good clear-out of the nest. The greenery underneath is covered in debris.

I made another short recording of these new sounds last night, which I uploaded to Xeno-Canto. You can listen to the simple recording or try the Xeno-Canto one below it, which shows the first 10 seconds as a sonogram and gives more information.

RECORDING 1 (20.05.2013 – 19.00)

Woodpecker 5.13-6

RECORDING 2 (21.05.2013 – 17.00)

Another 24 hours later, the chicks are turning up the volume, and can now be heard from even further away. Here is another recording made from exactly the same distance – about 6 inches – from the nest-hole as before. Again I’ve put in a simple audio version, with a Xeno-Canto upload and sonogram below for those who might be interested. The sonogram shows the same pulsing effect, but the increased noise registered can quite easily be seen. Tomorrow I abandon the chicks for a few days, and I will report back next week. When the little birds start peeping out of the hole at the world outside, I hope to get some photos.

Chiswick, West London, England, United Kingdom

Woodpecker 5.13-9
For a simple guide to recording birds on your iPhone or whatever, and converting the result to an mp3 file, see previous post or click for direct link HERE


  1. They make a very interesting noise, not like the twittering and cheeping I’ve heard other nestlings make. They also seem very careless leaving debris to mark their nest. They cannot be expecting predators coming from ground level.
    Have you thought how many there might be? There sounds like quite a few at the moment.


    1. Isn’t it strange? I reckon there are about 6. It turns out that the debris isn’t the problem. It the noise of the chicks. Today, 2 magpies, a jay, a squirrel and a cat all came to investigate. I’d say the squirrel is the main danger. I’ve now moved from urbs to rus till next week, so they’ll just have to fend for themselves…


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