What we hear as a blur of sound, a bird hears as a precise sequence of sounds, the visual equivalent of seeing a movie as a series of still pictures. That birds can hear the fine structure of song so acutely allows them to convey much information in a short sound. Winter Wrens (and their close relatives, Pacific Wrens) are found most often in closed-canopy conifer forests, although they also live in other forest types as long as there is dense understory.
This page is sponsored by Lynne Smith in honor of Toby Ross.
Thanks for supporting the new BirdNote.org, coming in 2020!
A Long Story in a Short Song
--What Birds Can Hear in a Song
Written by Todd Peterson
This is BirdNote!
Listen carefully to the song of the Winter Wren. [*See editor's note below.]
[Song of the Winter Wren]
What we hear as a blur of sound, the Winter Wren hears as a precise sequence of sounds, the visual equivalent of seeing a moving film as a series of still pictures.
That birds can hear so acutely the fine structure of song allows them to convey much information in a short sound. “This is probably why," naturalist Rosemary Jellis writes, "even the most extensive bird songs seem so brief to us. The bird with its speeded-up time sense must feel as if it had sung the equivalent of an operatic aria.”
Let's listen again, but this time with the song slowed down to one-quarter speed.
[Song of the Winter Wren at 1/4 speed]
Winter Wrens may hear the song of other Winter Wrens this way, enabling them to imitate each other – reminding us that creatures with which we share the world read and respond to nature in ways we sometimes cannot see or hear.
[Song of Winter Wren at full speed again]
You can see a photo of a Winter Wren in full song by coming to our web site, BirdNote.org. I’m Frank Corrado.
Song of the Winter Wren provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2010 Tune In to Nature.org October 2010
ID#052305WIWRKPLU revised 052407 WIWR-02-FCr
* According to BirdWeb.org: In 2010, the American Ornithologists' Union split the North American populations of Winter Wren into two separate species, the "Eastern Wren" of eastern North America and the "Pacific Wren" of the West.