We have a pair of Carolina Wrens nesting in a gutter next to our porch overhang. Quite often, the male sits on the nearby limb of an oak and sings his heart out. So today I decided to videotape his singing performance.
I set up my tripod and camera and within a minute or two he showed up, giving one song from a very nice-looking perch, and then flying to another. He then commenced to sing, but was interrupted when our cat Sangmu came out on the porch, meowing for some attention from me. As soon as the wren caught sight of him, he stopped singing and began giving two types of alarm calls … brief descending “cheers” and harsh “rattles.”
The “cheer” is given only by the male and is thought to signify alarm. I’ve heard “cheers” given in the presence of both aerial predators and ground predators, both near the nest and away from the nest. The “rattle” is given by both sexes, almost always when there is a disturbance near the nest.
Carolina Wrens have a number of other calls, some being soft and subtle, but these are the species’ two most prominent alarm calls. I am fortunate to have documented them being given in response to our little white cat.
Disclaimer: We generally do not allow Sangmu to be on the porch, for fear he might catch a bird. But in my rush to videotape the wrens, I accidentally left the door open.