Wrens Learning To Sing

A wren built her nest in a box, so situated that a family had an

opportunity of observing the mother bird instructing the young ones in the

art of singing peculiar to the species. She fixed herself on one side of

the opening in the box, directly before her young, and began by singing

over her whole song very distinctly. One of the young then attempted to

imitate her. After proceeding through a few notes, its voice broke, and it
lost the tune. The mother immediately recommenced where the young one had

failed, and went very distinctly through the remainder. The young bird

made a second attempt, commencing where it had ceased before, and

continuing the song as long as it was able; and when the note was again

lost, the mother began anew where it stopped, and completed it. Then the

young one resumed the tune and finished it. This done, the mother sang

over the whole series of notes a second time with great precision; and a

second of the young attempted to follow her. The wren pursued the same

course with this as with the first; and so with the third and fourth. It

sometimes happened that the young one would lose the tune three, four, or

more times in the same attempt; in which case the mother uniformly began

where they ceased, and sung the remaining notes; and when each had

completed the trial, she repeated the whole strain. Sometimes two of the

young commenced together. The mother observed the same conduct towards

them as when one sang alone. This was repeated day after day, and several

times in a day.