The Daily Telegraph
Woodpeckers on song with drum
“Drumming” on trees in woodpeckers is neurologically similar to singing in other birds, research suggests.
The animals’ forebrain contains specialised pecking regions that resemble those associated with song and language systems.
Songbirds express a marker gene in these areas called parvalbumin, which had only been found in the forebrain of birds that learn vocalisations. But a team from Brown University, in the US, found woodpeckers also have it.
Like birdsong, drumming is used to defend territories, requires complex motor movements, and must be adaptable when birds compete. Males also evolve drums to entice a mate.
Finding this system for non-vocal communication, which is both neurologically and functionally similar to the song system, can help us understand how brain systems evolve.
The findings were published in the journal