Cistothorus palustris Iona.jpg
Marsh wren (Cistothorus palustris)
Eurasian wren recorded in Speyside, Scotland
Scientific classification e
Swainson, 1832

Wrens are a family of mostly small, brown, passerine birds in the (mainly) New World family Troglodytidae. The family includes 88 species divided into 19 genera. Only the Eurasian wren occurs in the Old World, where in Anglophone regions, it is commonly known simply as the "wren", as it is the originator of the name. The name wren has been applied to other, unrelated birds, particularly the New Zealand wrens (Acanthisittidae) and the Australian wrens (Maluridae).

Most wrens are small and rather inconspicuous, except for their loud and often complex songs. Notable exceptions are the relatively large members of the genus Campylorhynchus, which can be quite bold in their behavior. Wrens have short wings that are barred in most species, and they often hold their tails upright. As far as is known, wrens are primarily insectivorous, eating insects, spiders, and other small arthropods, but many species also eat vegetable matter and some take small frogs and lizards and many more amphibians.[1]

Etymology and usage

The English name "wren" derives from Middle English wrenne, Old English wrænna, attested (as wernnaa) very early, in an eighth-century gloss. It is cognate to Old High German wrendo, wrendilo, and Icelandic rindill (the latter two including an additional diminutive -ilan suffix). The Icelandic name is attested in Old Icelandic (Eddaic) rindilþvari. This points to a Common Germanic name *wrandjan-, but the further etymology of the name is unknown.[2]

The wren is also known as kuningilin "kinglet" in Old High German, a name associated with the fable of the election of the "king of birds". The bird that could fly to the highest altitude would be made king. The eagle outflew all other birds, but he was beaten by a small bird that had hidden in his plumage. This fable is already known to Aristotle (Historia Animalium 9.11)[3] and Pliny (Natural History 10.95),[4][5] and was taken up by medieval authors such as Johann Geiler von Kaisersberg, but it concerns Kinglets (Regulus) and is apparently motivated by the yellow "crown" sported by these birds (a point noted already by Ludwig Uhland).[6] In modern German, the name is Zaunkönig, king of the fence (or hedge) and in Dutch the name is winterkoning (king of winter).

The family name Troglodytidae is derived from troglodyte, which means "cave-dweller", and the wrens get their scientific name from the tendency of some species to forage in dark crevices.

The name "wren" is also ascribed to other families of passerine birds throughout the world. In Europe, kinglets are commonly known as "wrens", the common firecrest and goldcrest as "fire-crested wren" and "golden-crested wren", respectively.

The 27 Australasian "wren" species in the family Maluridae are unrelated, as are the New Zealand wrens in the family Acanthisittidae, the antbirds in the family Thamnophilidae, and the Old World babbler of the family Timaliidae.

Other Languages
Ænglisc: Wrenna
العربية: نمنمة
asturianu: Troglodytidae
български: Орехчета
brezhoneg: Troglodytidae
català: Troglodítid
Cebuano: Troglodytidae
dansk: Smutter
davvisámegiella: Bealgelottit
Deutsch: Zaunkönige
español: Troglodytidae
Esperanto: Trogloditedoj
euskara: Troglodytidae
français: Troglodytidae
Frysk: Tomkes
Gaeilge: Dreoilín
한국어: 굴뚝새류
हिन्दी: पिद्दी
Bahasa Indonesia: Wren
italiano: Troglodytidae
עברית: גדרוניים
қазақша: Үңгіректер
Кыргызча: Корголдойлор
lietuvių: Karetaitiniai
Bahasa Melayu: Burung ren
Nederlands: Winterkoningen
Nedersaksies: Troglodytidae
norsk nynorsk: Gjerdesmettfamilien
polski: Strzyżyki
português: Troglodytidae
Simple English: Wren
српски / srpski: Carići
svenska: Gärdsmygar
українська: Воловоочкові
Tiếng Việt: Họ Tiêu liêu
Winaray: Troglodytidae
中文: 鹪鹩科