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Subject:Re: plain-tailed wren duet research--- from Science Now
From:Steve Greenfield <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Steve Greenfield <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 20 Nov 2011 18:52:40 -0600

I didn't pay attention to the discussion earlier this month on research on
the brain activity of duetting birds.  There were a couple of comments on
duetting in North American birds, which is rare compared to its occurrence
across families in Africa and elsewhere in the tropics.  I was aware of it
in Wrentits, but found a study where it's noted for 21 species!  Her
conclusion is that "Duetting behavior appears to have evolved at least 17
different times among North American passerines". However, this includes
casual or sporadic duetting, not just the tight and consistent singing shown
by Neotropical wrens, African barbets, etc., though Pygmy Nuthatches,
Wrentits, and Gray Catbirds are among those that  are "very precisely
timed".  Guess I need to pay more attention...


L. Benedict, J. Avian Biol. 39: 57_65, 2008



Stephen Greenfield




From: Matt Dufort [mailto:zeledonia@GMAIL.COM] 
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2011 8:43 AM
Subject: Re: plain-tailed wren duet research--- from Science Now


Thanks, Gordon, for forwarding that.  It's an interesting read.  

Duetting is actually quite common in other parts of the world, especially
tropical areas.  Africa, Central and South America, Australia, and other
places have lots of species that duet.


Plain-tailed Wrens, which this study focused on, are masters of it.
Something this article didn't mention is that this species sometimes lives
in large cooperative groups, and those groups sing in chorus.  Multiple
males singing the male part together, and multiple females singing the
female part together.

Some great examples of this are here:

and here:


Compared to the rest of the world, duet singing is unusually uncommon in the
US and Canada.  The only species here that comes to mind is Northern
Cardinal, though I suspect there are others.


Matt Dufort




On 11/8/11 9:50 PM, G Andersson wrote:

> This article reports research on the duet singing of this wren species

> Ecuador.  Given its name, could this be the only wren species without a

> barred tail?   Anyway there are links in the text to listen to the duet

> the single song.. also a link to the original journal article for those

> like neurology.  I don't think there are any duetting bird species in N

> America, but there are in Africa.  I would guess their finding apply to

> such species worldwide, but who knows?


> Gordon Andersson

> St Paul




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