wren defined in 1930 yearwren - Wren;
wren - Upper parts reddish brown with transverse dusky bars; quills barred alternately with black and reddish brown; tail dusky, barred with black; over the eye a pale narrow streak; under parts pale reddish brown; flanks and thighs marked with dark streaks. Length, three inches and a half.
The little nut-brown wren - nut-like, too, in his smallness and round, compact figure - with cocked-up tail and jerky motions and gesticulations, and flight as of a fairy partridge with rapidly-beating, short wings, that produce a whirring noise if you are close enough to hear it, is a familiar creature to almost every person throughout the three kingdoms, and is even more generally diffused than the house- sparrow. Something of the feeling which we have for the swallow, the house-martin, and the robin redbreast, falls to the share of the small wren. He is one of the few general favourites, although, perhaps, not so great a favourite as the others just named. The reason of this is, doubtless, because he is less domestic, never so familiar with man or tolerant of close observation. The wren is never tame nor unsuspicious; he is less dependent on us than other small birds that attach themselves to human habitations, never a ' pensioner ' in the same degree as the blue tit, dunnock, blackbird, and sparrow. The minute spiders, chrysalids, earwigs, and wood-lice with other creeping things to be found in obscure holes and corners in wood-piles, ivy-covered walls, and outhouses, are more to his taste than the 'sweepings of the threshold.' His small size, modest colouring, and secrecy; his activity, and habit of seeking his food in holes and dark places which are not explored by other insectivorous species, enable him to exist in a great variety of conditions - gardens, orchards, deep woods, open commons, hedgerows, rocky shores, swamps, mountains, and moors; there are, indeed, few places where the small, busy wren is not to be met with. This ability of the wren to find everywhere in nature a neglected corner to occupy would appear to give it a great advantage over other small birds; moreover, It is very prolific, and excepting, perhaps, two species of tits, is more successful than any other small bird in rearing large broods of young. Nevertheless, the wrens do not seem to increase. At the end of summer they are very abundant, and you will, perhaps, be able to count a dozen birds where only one pair appeared in spring; but when spring comes again you will generally find that the population has fallen back to its old numbers. The larger increase in summer indicates a greater mortality during the rest of the year than is suffered by other species. The wren is said to eat fruit occasionally, and even seeds; but it is almost exclusively inspectivorous, and probably perishes in large numbers during periods of frost, when larks, pipits, and titmice become seed-eaters. Yet the wren is a hardy little bird, a resident all the year round in the coldest parts of our country, and one of the few songsters which may be heard in all seasons. Even during a frost, if the sun shines, the wren will sing as gaily as in summer. His song is his greatest charm. It is unlike that of any other British melodist - a loud, bright lyric, the fine, clear, high-pitched notes and trills issuing in a continuous rapid stream from beginning to end. Although rapid, and ending somewhat abruptly, it is a beautiful and finished performance, in which every note is distinctly enunciated and has its value. When near it sounds very loud: one is surprised to hear so loud a song from so small a creature. But it does not carry far: the notes of the song-thrush, blackbird, and nightingale can be heard at nearly three times the distance.
The wren begins his nest-building at the end of April, and in selecting a site exercises a greater freedom than most small birds. The nests may be found in trees, bushes, masses of ivy or other dense vegetation, hedgerows, holes in banks and walls, crevices in rocks, in furze-bushes, and close to the ground among the bramble- bushes. There is also a great variety in the materials used in building different nests. As a rule, one kind of material is used for the outer part of the structure, which is domed, and very large for the bird. It may be moss or dead leaves, or moss and leaves woven together, or dry grass leaves and stems, or dead fern-fronds. The nest is not only well concealed, but in most cases the outside is made to assimilate in colour to the vegetation surrounding it. The opening is near the top of the nest; inside, the cavity is lined with moss, hair, and feathers. Four or five eggs are laid, often a larger number, and it is not unusual to find as many as eight or nine eggs in a nest. Not long ago, in a wood in Berkshire, I saw eight young wrens sitting in a row on a branch near the ground, and watched them being fed by the old birds. The eggs are pure white, thinly spotted with pinkish red. Two broods are reared in the season. Imperfect or false nests are often found near the nest containing the eggs, and are called ' cocks' nests,' the belief being that they are made by the male bird.
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