Plain Wren Songs & Duets

Plain Wrens (Thryothorus modestus) are among the most coordinated singers in the animal kingdom. Breeding pairs of plain Wrens produce astonishingly synchronized vocal duets, where the male and female altnernate their songs with such coordinated timing that you can easily mistake their duet for the song of a single bird. Scroll down through this webpage to hear examples of Plain Wren solo and duets.

Plain Wren Solo Songs - The basic unit of the Plain Wren's vocabulary is the phrase. Every individual has a repertoire of 20 or more song phrases that they can choose to sing in isolation, or as part of a vocal duet.  There are three primary types of phrases.  Males sing I-phrases ("Introductory phrases") loud and often, sometimes as solos and sometimes at the start od duets.  Females sing F-phrases ("Female phrases") during duets. Males sing M-phrases ("Male phrases") usually only during duets.
Roll your mouse over the sound spectrograms and click to hear each sound.

Plain Wren Tandem Solos - Sometimes male Plain Wrens sing unusual "tandem solos", where they rapidly sing a phrase many times in a row. Sometimes these long solos consist of an I-phrase repeated many times (the first example below) and sometimes they consist of alternating I-phrases and M-phrases (the second example). Rarely, females will sing tandem solos consisting of repeats of their F-phrases (the third example).
Roll your mouse over the sound spectrograms and click to hear each sound.

Plain Wren Duets - Male and female Plain Wrens compose duets by singing alternating male and female phrases. Duets begin when a female sings an F-phrase in response to her male's I-phrase, and they often following long bouts males singing solo I-phrases. As soon as the female sings an F-phrase, the male rapidly switches to an M-phrase and the ensuing duet consists of many alternating F and M phrases (the first two examples, below). Sometimes the male will switch batch to an I-phrase if the female stops singing (the third example). Rarely, duets begin when a female sings an F-phrase and the male responds with an M-phrase (the fourth example).
Roll your mouse over the sound spectrograms and click to hear each sound.

The songs on this webpage correspond to the sounds shown in figures 1, 2, and 3 of the paper Cuthbert JL & DJ Mennill. (2007) The Duetting Behavior of Pacific Coast Plain Wrens. The Condor 109: 686-692 written by me and my student Jessica Cuthbert. You can read a reprint of this paper by clicking here.

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All information on this website is copyright Daniel Mennill 2007 unless otherwise indicated.  No recordings, photographs, or other information may be used without written permission from me.  Please email me at dmennill AT uwindsor DOT ca and I will happily grant permission for most non-commercial or educational purposes.