A tiny bird that from a distance resembles a brown ball but on closer inspection reveals reddish-brown upperparts and paler underparts on a body that is barred all over. It has a relatively long bill that is pointed and slightly down-curved. Legs are light brown. Sexes and ages are alike in appearance. The wren has a very short tail that is often held upright and jerked up and down.
Wrens have a ticking, rattling alarm call. Also expresses single hard “zer” clicking call. Sings mostly from cover, and its song, shrill and trilling, is amazingly loud for such a small bird. The song can be heard every month of the year.
iSpiny, XC314450. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/314450.
A wren with an insect
The wren’s slender, curved bill is ideal for catching the small spiders and insects on which it usually feeds. In winter, when this food source is scarce, it will also consume seeds.
Wrens are common visitors to the garden and are widespread throughout the UK. They are usually found in low, covered areas and prefer rank shrub and herbage, such as along streams.
When its wings are closed, the wren displays lines of white barring on primary feathers. It can be difficult to locate as it prefers to forage on the ground or flit among the stems of foliage. However, it can often be seen in the garden and remains active during the hours following sunset. On cold winter nights, wrens will roost communally in tightly packed clumps, and numbers can surpass 60 in these gatherings. In-flight the wren looks like a warm-brown, whirring bee-like bird.
Wrens have the nickname Jenny Wren. This is because females get extremely vocal when her newly fledged brood is on site.
Wrens nest in dense undergrowth, where the male will build multiple nests to attract females, which will then choose their preferred constructions. Nests that don’t make the cut will go unused. Females lay 5-8 glossy white eggs that have an incubation period of around 17 days.
On average, wrens live up to 2 years.
Wrens are resident throughout Europe, but some northern populations will migrate south for winter. One Swedish individual was recorded travelling to southern Spain.
One of the more abundant birds in Britain with about ten million pairs currently.
Known collective nouns for a group of Wrens are as follows:
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