A Song for APRIL 07

Click the sonogram to hear and see the sound.

I had flown in the day before for a meeting of the International Bioacoustics Council (IBAC), but I didn't meet any fellow recordists as I walked the sidewalks of the cathedral town of Chartres, France, well before dawn, listening for anything that might be singing. I had Great Tits and Eurasian Robins as well, but several Eurasian Wrens were very busy and I was able to get within 10 meters of this one. I think I remember seeing him in silhouette in the faint light cast by distant streetlights. At any rate, I dictated "Troglodytes troglodytes" onto my tape.

At the time, the English name for the species was merely Wren, although we called it Winter Wren over here in America. It was a little ironic that the sole wren (member of the New World family Troglodytidae) to colonize Eurasia got all the publicity, when the Americas boasted dozens of species, but it was in the right place at the right time, that being Linnaeus's back yard.

The aforementioned disparity in number of species led to the hypothesis that The Wren got to Eurasia by way of the Bering Land Bridge, and then spread to Britain, where it was dubbed Wren, and Sweden, where Linnaeus encountered it. The descendants of those colonists and their American cousins looked and sounded so similar that ornithologists classified them all as the same species, "Troglodytes troglodytes." But, a highly productive American-Russian collaboration has added dates and details to that scenario. Using mitochondrial DNA sequences, Drovetski et al. (2004) estimated that Eurasian birds last shared an ancestor with American birds (now known as Winter Wren [T. hiemalis]) one million years ago (mya). Before that, 1.6 mya, the Pacific Wren (T. pacificaus) had already split off from the main stem. The Eurasian colonists split into four independent lineages once they got there. So, as is often the case, there was more going on with wrens than met the eye. Clicking on the words "Eurasian Wren" inside the Ebird box above will take you to Ebird's page for that species, and from there you can navigate to its closest relatives with the links in the top-right part of the page.

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