The indomitable wren

Even though my regular finches had been conspicuous by their absence in the garden one of my favourite birds, and one of the tiniest, was often flitting around the flower pots hunting insects:

The wren (Troglodytes troglodytes, Dansk: gærdsmutte)

The word ‘troglodyte‘ has derogatory connotations so I wondered why the taxonomic name for the wren uses it twice, and apparently it originates from the Greek for ‘cave dweller’. Even though the BTO website lists its habitat as woodland and undergrowth as it’s an insectivore I guess that could make sense in some countries, so I guess it may depend on the nationality of the scientist who named it.

Wrens are tiny, weighing on average 10g and with a 15cm wingspan. They’re resident in the UK and I think it’s remarkable that such a tiny creature can survive a long cold British winter. A real testament to the effectiveness of feathers as insulators. And another amazing thing about wrens is their voices, they have incredibly loud song for such a tiny bird, if you’d like to hear it click here: Eurasian wren song.

Yet another remarkable fact about the humble wren is that it’s the most numerous songbird in the UK with 7.7 million territories. And as they’re not always easy to see as they flit around the undergrowth I was surprised by that statistic until I learnt to recognise the song. After that I realised they are everywhere!

This little chap appeared one day in February this year on a bug hunt in the flower pots, he posed right outside the window and let me snap a series of portraits. Wrens have been regular visitors through this year and I’ve deliberately avoided tidying the garden hoping they continue to treat it as home.

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6 responses to “The indomitable wren

  1. My new years resolution is to “never tidy the garden again” because of the wrens ;). Seriously though, I have noticed an upsurge in the amount of wrens we are getting on the kitchen window sill. I think a pair of young wrens have made their nest in a large buddleia approximately 3 metres away from said window and they can be seen and heard right through the day. I have learned a lot about wrens from this small pair. They are incredibly vocal little birds and make a lot more noise than their tiny stature would warrant. They are the first ones (just beating the blackbirds) to the kitchen window for the 4.30am cheese fest and the last ones to be seen pecking around in the cheesy remnants at dusk. If any other birds attempt to take cheese when they happen to want it, you can hear them loudly telling them where to get off. Wrens are beautiful, hardy, stoic and clever and I, for one, wouldn’t be without them in our garden 🙂

    • That’s the kind of NY resolution that makes sense. It won’t just be wrens that appreciate it either. Are you’re Oz wrens the same species as ours (Troglodytes troglodytes)? If so, you must be enjoying all the song, it amazes that so much noise comes from such a tiny bird.

      • Apparently our local wrens are Malurus cyaneus. They are very vocal and I noticed the young female from the mated pair that have taken up residence somewhere very close to the kitchen sill where the tasty cheese crumbles sometimes appear, was drinking out of the dogs water bowl and clearing out the spiders and other insect life in my deck potted plants in between pilfering cheese. Lovely little feisty birds that have no fear 🙂 Here’s our local wrens “http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/?base=13117

      • Your wrens are much more colourful than ours but the song is not dissimilar. I’d be happy to have those little guys living in my garden.

  2. Excellent photos, Finn. I think wrens are really difficult to photograph because they move so quickly. They’re one of my favourite birds, too. 🙂

    • Thanks Lorna. They are pretty tricky. They’re tiny, brown, skittish and they flit around under cover of the undergrowth and often don’t break cover. You’re dead right, they can be challenging, so thanks to this little chap for posing so conveniently!

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