The Wren – which has the intriguing scientific name of Troglodytes troglodytes – is a common bird at St Nicks, although it is heard more often than it is seen. The Wren is Britain’s third smallest breeding bird, after Goldcrest and Firecrest (sharing 1st= place).
For such a small bird, just 9 – 10 cm long, it has an amazingly loud song. Click here to listen to its song. It has been suggested that, if the Wren was the size of an Ostrich, and its song was equally magnified, it would shatter human eardrums!
At St Nicks, we probably have between four to six breeding pairs of Wrens, although surveying the population is not easy.
Wrens tend to nest close to the ground. The male builds a number of ball-shaped nests, made of leaves, dried grass and moss, with an entrance at the side, near the top. They are sited in hedges, brambles, tree trunks – and even in the old nests of other birds. The female then chooses just one of the nests that the male has built, and lines it plentifully with feathers. She lays five to eight eggs.
In the Autumn and Winter, the Wrens at St Nicks are rather skulking, flitting around, usually low to the ground. But in March to April, they adopt higher song posts, and are easier to see – as well as hear.
Wrens feed mainly on insects, particularly beetles. So, like all insect-eating birds, winter can be a hard time for Wrens. Also, because of its tiny size, Wrens chill much more rapidly than larger birds. A hard winter can result in massive mortality amongst Wrens, although the population can recover within a couple of seasons.
So, in the coming months, watch out for the St Nicks Wrens.. listen for their distinctive song, and watch out for a very small, light-brownish bird flying across the paths, with a fast wing-flickering flight.
And when they land, look for the distinctive cocked tail. This tail ensures that, whilst they are not Britain’s smallest bird, they are our shortest bird!
All the Wren photos here were taken at St Nicks in recent years.