Female attraction to male song in house wrens (Troglodytes aedon)

L. Scott Johnson, William A. Searcy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This study tested the hypothesis that the song of male birds can function to attract mates. At 11 different locations on our Wyoming study area, we broadcast the song of male house wrens (Troglodytes aedon) from a loudspeaker mounted next to an empty nest box in an unoccupied wren territory. The number of female wrens attracted to the 'speaker box' was compared to the number visiting a silent, control box on another, unoccupied territory nearby. Females visited speaker boxes at a significantly higher rate than they visited control boxes. Ten females visited speaker boxes in six different trials during periods when no male was associated with either the speaker or control box (total time = 45.5 h; visit rate = 0.22/h). In contrast, only one female visited a control box during these same periods (= 0.02 visits/h), and she did so after first visiting the speaker box. Two females visited the speaker box simultaneously in some trials and chasing or fighting always ensued. Many females showed signs of settling permanently at speaker boxes, remaining at speaker boxes from their arrival to the end of the trial (> 5 h in two cases), and most began constructing nests in boxes, despite the absence of a male. In summary, this study provides strong experimental evidence that the song of male house wrens can function to attract mates for breeding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-366
Number of pages10
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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