The Voice of Niceforo's Wren

In a valley between the mountains of central Colombia, the tropical dry forests are home to a remarkable bird called Niceforo's Wren. Named after the monk who discovered the species in the 1940's (Brother Niceforo Maria), these wrens are found in the Chicamocha Valley and nowhere else on Earth. Their entire population consists of somewhere between 50 and 100 individuals and they are red-listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Sandra Valderrama and I, together with Sandra's colleagues from Colombia, have been studying the voice of Niceforo's Wrens. Their songs had never been described before. Our research consisted of recording and describing the songs of male and female Niceforo's Wrens, and our report on their voice will appear in a 2008 issue of the scientific journal The Auk. We also compared the voices of Niceforo's Wrens to the related Rufous-and-white Wren in a report that has recently appeared in the scientific journal The Condor. Although their voices are superficially similar, our research demonstrates that their voices are quite distinct
Below, you can navigate a map depicting the songs of Niceforo's Wrens (Thryothorus nicefori) and closely related Rufous-and-white Wrens (Thryothorus rufalbus). The shaded regions shows the range of Rufous-and-white Wrens, from Mexico down to Colombia and Venezuela -- there are five different subspecies. The tiny range of Niceforo's Wrens is shown as a shaded circle in the middle of Colombia. Click on any of the spectrograms to hear the song. You can read our report describing the differences in the voices of these sister species here: 

A Niceforo's Wren (top) from Colombia and a Rufous-and-white Wren (bottom) from Costa Rica.
Photos by S. Valderrama and D. Mennill

Click on the sound spectrograms on the map below to hear the songs!

The latin name of Rufous-and-white Wrens is Thryothorus rufablus and the range of the species stretches from Mexico to two parts of Colombia and Venezuela. The latin name of Niceforo's Wrens is Thryothorus nicefori and there is only one subspecies, found in central Colombia.

Read the full paper describing our comparison of Niceforo's Wren versus Rufous-and-white Wren songs here: Valderrama, Parra, & Mennill (2007) Species differences in the songs of the critically endangered Niceforo's Wren (Thryothorus nicefori) and the related Rufous-and-white Wren (Thryothorus rufalbus). Condor 109:871-878.

Our collaborative research on these amazing singers has been supported by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, by ProAves Colombia, by the University of Windsor, and by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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