Unlike in temperate forests, bird communities in neotropical forests are largely composed
of species of Tyranni, or suboscines, a suborder of passseriform birds that do not learn
their songs. Thus, songs of suboscines are tyically acoustically simple compared to the
complex songs of Passeri, the oscine passeriforms. While a great deal is know
about oscine song, few descriptions of the repertoires of tropical suboscines have been
published, and relatively little is known about the use and function of song in
suboscines. Additionallly, whether suboscines can recognize individuals by voice
alone has received little attention.
One representative of these tropical soboscines is the buff-throated woodcreeper
(Xiphorhynchus guttatus, Dendrocolaptinae), a bird commonly found in the forests
of the tropical Americas. To investigate the possibility for individual variation
in songs of this species we recorded buff-throated
woodcreepers at dawn and dusk in Amazonian Peru. From these recordings, we
document two long-range song types, describe their acoustic parameters, and examine their
occurrence at different times of day and across two seasons.
Quantitative analysis of frequency, timing, and pattern of songs revealed that
woodcreeper vocalizations varied signficantly among individuals. A discriminant
function analysis of song parameters successfully assigned a majority of songs to the
Despite their relatively simple structure, the vocalizations of buff-throated
woodcreepers vary consistently among individuals but apparently not so distinctly as
those of many oscines. Questions remain regarding whether the buff-throated
woodcreeper can use these differences for individual recognition and how the two song
types function in communication.