Woodpeckers, who are already in the business of banging their heads against trees, use a combination of singing and drumming in courtship – though their singing is really more of a repeated yell: “Yak Yak Yak Yak Yak…” When excavating trees in search of grubs, ants, and other hexipedal tasty treats, woodpeckers certainly make a lot of noise, but the taps are more constant, though arrhythmic (I’ve got a trail camera aimed at a pileated feeding site so hopefully will have video to share soon).
But in territorial drumming, woodpeckers seek out dead, hollow logs and drum in a short, steady beat (see videos above and below). As one article put it: “The drumming of pileated woodpeckers is frequently associated with preening and moments of excitement, as when the birds are about to roost for the night” (link). Pileateds will drum throughout the year, though it’s less frequent and more opportunistic (whenever they pass a good drumming tree). The drumming peaks during the breeding season, with males drumming more frequently than do females.