[CT Birds] Winter Wrens

Tammy Eustis teustis at killingworthlibrary.org
Sun Jul 4 18:38:20 EDT 2010

And for those who want to read the full story on this, there's a fascinating book called Hunting the Wren by Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence. It focuses on the St. Stephen's Day wren hunts that used to take place in the British Isles. It includes much of the mythology surrounding wrens, including Dennis's story below about the wren as King of the Birds. From what I remember of my reading, the people of the Isles used to refer to any small birds as "wrens" until ornithologists were able to distinguish between the species. So one such group of birds - once they were identified as from a different taxonomic family - became known as regulidae ("petty king" or "kinglet"). A direct reference to their previous mistaken identity as King of the Birds.
That's the story, anyway, and it's an interesting one. Just 2 cents from a librarian on a long weekend!
:-) Tammy Eustis, Chester

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis Varza [mailto:dennisvz at optonline.net]
Sent: Saturday, July 3, 2010 11:53 PM
To: 'Jim Bair', 'Posting Bird List'
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Winter Wrens

Just to add more wren trivia. the title winter king comes from an old folk tale that goes roughly as follows: One day the birds got together to decide who would be King. They decided that the bird that flew the highest would be King. So, all the birds take off and eventually each drops out at different elevation. At last the the eagle is alone in the sky and just as he is about to declare himself king, the wren pops out of the eagle's back where he was hiding and flies higher than the eagle and becomes King. For the life of me, I don't know were I heard this but it stuck. Dennis Varza Fairfield On Jul 3, 2010, at 2:14 PM, james.bair at snet.net wrote: > Dear Steve: > > You wrote: > > I had a Winter Wren just a few steps to the west of Nettleton's > Ravine in the spicebush/skunk cabage/hemlocks.? There was another > Troglodytes troglodytes (I love that Old World Name - 'Reminds me > of the HG Wells classic, The Time Machine) further down the ravine > in the hemlocks to the west.? > > Yeah, Troglodytes troglodytes is normally the only wren species > found in Europe. In England it is just called Wren. (The Dutch > name Winterkoning means "winter king." I guess in North America we > put the Dutch and English together. In some European languages > "king" birds are wrens.) Winter Wrens usually nest in some kind of > natural cavity, not so much a hole or tree cavity like the House > Wren, a mass of roots, a crevice, or the like. Their nest is > constructed with a entance hole on the side, so it does look like a > little cave. "Troglodyte" has come to mean "cave dweller," > literally "hole enterer." The Morlocks in Wells' "The Time Machine" > were the troglodytes, the underground "cave dwellers" of the > future. Also the Troggs, the band that recorded the 60's hit "Wild > Thing," got their name from shortening troglodyte. I guess wild > things would live in caves--the music and lyrics of the song were > both pretty primitive. > > Jim Bair > _______________________________________________ > This list is provided by the Connecticut Ornithological Association > (COA) for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut. > For subscription information visit http://lists.ctbirding.org/ > mailman/listinfo/ctbirds_lists.ctbirding.org _______________________________________________ This list is provided by the Connecticut Ornithological Association (COA) for the discussion of birds and birding in Connecticut. For subscription information visit http://lists.ctbirding.org/mailman/listinfo/ctbirds_lists.ctbirding.org 

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