Listen to a Young Bewick's Wren Trying to Find Its Voice

Male wrens grow up mimicking their fathers' songs—until it's time to claim their own territories.

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At this time of year, a very young male Bewick’s Wren is beginning to learn how to sing. Like a human baby, he’ll babble while he experiments with sounds and learns how to organize phrases.

The young Bewick’s Wren is listening to the song of his father who sings a crisp well-defined song, separated by pauses.

Now let’s compare:  Here’s the song of our young Bewick’s Wren.

It’s fuzzy, unfocused, a little rambling.

Here’s the adult male again. 

It’s fully developed and unique to that male.

Each adult male Bewick’s Wren has his own set of songs. A young wren grows up learning his father’s songs.  But when it matures and moves to its own new territory, it will leave behind the song of its father to create a song that sounds more like its new neighbors.

BirdNote would like to thank Donald Kroodsma, avian communication expert, for his research on the Bewick’s Wren. You’ll find a link to his work at birdnote.org.


Written by Chris Peterson

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Song of Bewick’s Wren and human baby (his daughter) recorded by Donald Kroodsma and found on the CD of Donald Kroodsma’s, The Singing Life of Birds: the Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2005  1) Track 11,  2) Track 9, and 3) Track 10.

Final song of adult Bewick’s Wren (103223) provided by Macaulay Library at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, recorded by M.D. Medler.

© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org     May 2017/2019  Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#     BEWR-02-2012-05-01    

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