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RE: House Wrens, Marsh Wrens East and West

Subject: RE: House Wrens, Marsh Wrens East and West
From: "Barb Beck" <>
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 16:37:04 -0600

If somebody is posting marsh, house wren etc I can contribute some from

Some barriers are not permanent. We have the situation here where critters
which were split during the ice ages and are coming back together.  We have
two different ssp of Winter Wren in the province and they sing very
different songs.  In the states you have the Plains which still separate
woodland species east and west but here we have the Boreal Forest which
stretches across the country (Note That is NOT Taiga any more than your
prairie is the steppe -  a certain field guide series has done a great
disservice to the area by equating it to the vast Taiga in Russia. People do
not realize that it is distinct and worthy of protection.)

Sometimes two different species start singing similar songs because they are
closely related and are coming back together after the big split.  Our
Audubon and Myrtle are very similar - more so than those further west and
our Black-throated Green and Townsands and Morning and McGillavary's are
much more similar than those I hear on the other side of the Rocks. Some of
our Blue-headed Vireos have learned Cassins songs or at least it sounds that

It was neat when we were on sabbatical in California to hear migrating
northern White Crowned Sparrows singing with the local birds that remain
very close to home and sing their own very different dialects.

For the Pileated Woodpecker it is not the east west split which sounds
different but the north south split.  Our birds sound much less nasal than
either those I knew in California or those from the eastern part of the US.
The best way to describe ours is like the sound of the old surfing song
"Wipe Out".

Even birds which do not learn their songs sing intermediate songs in this
province The AOU tells us that the Western Flycatcher is really two distinct
species each of which sings its own song yet they are intermediate here but
who am I to argue.

All this makes for interesting and at times frustrating birding. But, it is
not as bad as the situation with our butterflies which were not only split
east and west but some remained to develop along their own lines in the ice
free areas of the north and things were further complicated by Asian species
which crossed the land bridge and added their own thing to the diversity of
the area.  At least our frogs and toads sit still and sing their own
distinct songs which are easy to identify - although Lang Elliott says there
is something funny about our Canada Toad (B. hemiophrys)

Barb Beck

-----Original Message-----
From: Doug Von Gausig 
Sent: June 27, 2003 11:33 AM
Subject: [Nature Recordists] House Wrens, Marsh Wrens

At 10:13 AM 6/27/2003, Rich Peet wrote:
>Yes MN Marsh Wrens don't sound like western Marsh Wrens.
>On my first birding trip to CA I could not ID either a House Wren or
>a Marsh Wren. Western Marsh Wrens are much more like the Singer
>Sewing Machines than ours. For asthetics, I prefer our House and your

I have House Wren recordings from Colorado, Arizona, California, Texas and
Costa Rica, all are different, but identifiable as House Wrens. This is a
species that has lots of regional dialects and tons of "song types". Do you
have a typical Minnesota House Wren you could post or send me to post?

Marsh Wrens are famously different in the west than in the eastern US - a
case for future allopatric speciation (meaning they have evolved in
different areas of the country, and the populations don't mix, usually due
to physical barriers, like mountain ranges, etc.), I'm sure.

Doug Von Gausig
Clarkdale, Arizona, USA
Nature Recordists e-mail group

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