Nick Baker circulated this account on 8th February 2011 to a select group of nature enthusiasts: “Woke up a bit blurry this morning, and kept hearing a strange metallic rattling noise in my place. I thought it was just the water pipes vibrating in our old place. After finishing my morning cup of tea, and feeling somewhat revived, I went to investigate the noise. Instead of old water pipes, I found this Rufous Woodpecker (Celeus brachyurus) busily trying to drill a hole through my aircon!”
The response Nick got…
1. R Subaraj: “Great record Nick! Actually, it’s not an uncommon practice among woodpeckers, though this is the first that I have heard of a rufous doing so. The woodpecker is proclaiming its territory by drumming on something that would amplify his sound. Based on your photo, the bird is a male.
“Laced Woodpeckers are famous for doing this and I have observed them drum on zinc roofs of kampong houses and even metal lamp-posts. I have observed the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker drumming on the plastic disk of television antennae. It’s all about making your territorial drumming sound even more impressive! Smart birds. Several forest woodpeckers will also use hollow trunks for the same reason and a few use hollow bamboo stems.”
2. Vilma D’Rozario: “Maybe the woodpecker was trying to flush out insects hiding within the spaces of the aircon, so that it could make a meal out of them?”
3. Marcus Chua’s: “Really cool observation Nick. Maybe beak against metal is louder than beak on wood. Better for advertising territory?”