wrens-how many notes a second?

To: "Arwen B. Ximenes" <>
Subject: wrens-how many notes a second?
From: Andrew Taylor <>
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2008 20:03:36 +1000
On Sun, Aug 31, 2008 at 01:53:48PM +1000, Arwen B. Ximenes wrote:
> Is there anyone out there with bioacoustics knowledge who can
> shed some light on how to read a waveform? I know there's a
> program called Syrinx but I'd find it easier using one I know,
> although it's admittedly designed for human speech, so wouldn't
> pick up all the frequencies. The answer is probably very obvious
> but never having analysed this type of sound before I'm curious to
> understand more.

A paper by Donald Kroodsma on Winter Wren song is free online here:
It should give you a feeling of how their sonagrams get analyzed.

I had a quick look at one Superb Fairy-wren song and one Southern
Emu-wren song.  Definitely simpler songs than Winter Wrens but still
the Superb Fairy-wren had roughly 30 syllables over about 4 seconds.
The emu-wren song looked more interesting with overlapping whistles at
separate frequencies presumably one from each syrinx.

A couple of book recommendations.

Praat is very powerful but not the easiest way to look at
bird song.  Worth trying is Raven Lite - the free cut-down
version of Cornell's Raven software. It runs on most platforms.

Donald Kroodsma's popular book the "Singing Life of Birds: The Art and
Science of Listening to Birdsong" is a  gentle  discursive intro to
bird song and Kroodsma's lifetime of  research - including Winter Wrens.
You can get it for under $30 from the US (try

More of a reference is Mark Constadine's a "Sound Approach to Birding:
A Guide to Understanding Bird Sound" - a careful and detailed look at
bird songs & sonagrams from a (European) birder's perspective.


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