Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Wrens are one of the only bird families I can think of that are more spectacular and widespread in the New World, while also being present in the Old World. In addition to their unusual biogeography, wrens are highly diverse in appearance and behavior. 

Troglodytes troglodytes, Greek for cave-dweller, is the only Old World representative. This diminuitive species is highly polygynous, which means that each male has several mates, each of which he attracts by building wee nests in some nook or cranny of a rock, building or bush.
Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

In striking contrast, the giant wren, endemic to Chiapas, Mexico, is about twice as long and five times as heavy as the dumpy little wren of European legend and literature.
Giant Wren (Campylorhynchus chiapensis)

Another endemic to Mexico, though with a less restricted range, is the felicitously named happy wren. 

Happy Wren (Thryothorus felix)

Inca Wren (Thryothorus eisenmanni)

Other wrens are aptly named for the places to which they are endemic. The Inca wren is only found around Machu Picchu, while the snail-eating Zapata wren only occurs in Cuba's Zapata Swamp. 
Zapata wren (Ferminia cerverai)


Wrens are also known for their varied and surprisingly loud songs. The musician wren of Amazonia is the subject of legend, including one in which all other birds stop to hear it sing.
Musician wren (Cyphorhinus arada)

Two of my favourite North American wrens are named for their habitat:
Marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris)
Canyon wren (Catherpes mexicanus)

1 comment:

  1. I'd never heard of the Musician Wren, but I just went and had a listen. It's quite wonderful...