While reading up on the bird species that are commonly seen on the reserve I learned that the wren is actually the most common breeding bird in the UK with 8.5 million breeding pairs! But despite this fact I thought: “How much do I really know about them?” So I thought I would find out more! The bird we know as a wren is actually the winter or European wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), the only species of wren found outside of North America, and present across most of the northern hemisphere. See how many of these facts you already knew, or perhaps you will find out something completely new! Here are ten top tips about this species:
1. Wrens eat spiders and insects which they find while hopping and dashing along the ground and probing in crevices with their long thin bill. Their scientific name, Troglodytes, means “cave dweller” in reference to this behaviour or to their delicately constructed nests which have only a small opening.
2. Wrens were first recorded in Anglo-Saxon times though there is fossil evidence from the last Ice age, 10-120,000 years ago.
3. An adult wren will away about the same as a £1 coin, with only the firecrest and goldcrest being smaller species found in Britian.
4. For such a small bird the wren has an astonishingly loud song. In fact, per unit weight, it sings at ten times the power of a crowing cockrel!
5. In Britain the Wren population can be devastated by a severe winter, but the species’ high egg productivity means that numbers usually recover after a few years.
6. European Wrens are both sedentary (as in Britain) but will be migratory in parts of Europe, flying anything up to 2500 km (1500 miles) with some migrating all the way from Scandinavia down to Spain.
7. Wrens will use open-fronted and tit nest boxes for nesting and winter roosting (up to 60 have been recorded in one box).
8. European wrens are polygamous (males will mate with several females) and most are strongly territorial, at least during the breeding season. Males will construct many nests often 6-12 which the females will choose and then line with moss, leaves or feathers.
9. The wren lays between one and nine eggs which only the female incubates, though both adults will feed the young chicks.
10. Around 35 to 44 different subspecies of wren have been identified worldwide, which differ in size, overall colouration and the extent of barring on the plumage.
Hope that helped shed some light on this truely amazing little bird.
Bye for now!
Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger