WREN, a family (Tlod3rtitfe) of pas serine birds, having a slender, slightly cursed and pointed bill, with the exposed nosy is partly concealed by a scale, the wings very short and rounded, with nine well developed and the first short primaries, the tail short and often carried erect; the legs are robust and ratios long. They are abundant in the neotrooscal re glom, less common in the nearctic, and only a few occur in the Old World in Europe. Asa and Sumatra, those of the latter region bong more or less aberrant. The known species ex ceed 100 and are arranged in about 15 genera, several of which are confined to tropical Amer ica. North America has six genera sad 14 species. Closely related to the is rens are the mocking thrushes, which some ornithologists place in the same family, and the creepers (Ceramic). The wrens are plain little birds usually clothed in modest browns and seldom exhibiting bright colors of very conspicuous markings. They are insectivorous and mostly migratory, though particular species may in habit either warm or cold regions. Their haunts are mostly brush piles, tangled roots, stone walls and similar places, where they pry into every nook and cranny; they enter holes and reappear in another place in very mouse like fashion; and are altogether very sprightly little creatures. Their songs are wonderfully loud and vehement for such small birds, but differ characteristically for each species. Al though the nests vary greatly in their location, which is most often a hole of some sort, they are always more or less spherical in construc tion. Few passerine birds are more prolific, the eggs numbering from five to 10, and many of the species producing several 'broods.
Few birds are more familiar in the United States than the house-wren (Troglodytes aition). It is about five inches long. The color is very uniform, reddish brown above, barred with dusky, and pale fulvous white below. It often builds its nest near houses and in boxes pre pared for it or in any convenient hole. The nests are made to fill the boxes; and to effect this a large mass of heterogeneous materials is sometimes collected. From six to eight eggs constitute a brood and two or three broods are produced in a summer. The eggs are so thickly spotted with brown that they appear to be al most uniformly colored. The song is extremely rapid and vivacious as though the performer were overflowing with good spirits. The male is a very bold, pugnacious bird, readily attack ing birds far larger than itself, as the bluebird and swallows, and taking possession of the boxes which they have appropriated for their nests. It even attacks cats when they approach its nests and vigorously scolds all intruders.
The winter wren (T. hiemalis) is our small est species of wren, only about four inches long, and the ridiculous little tail is usually cocked straight up into the air. Above. the color is a rich dark brown; below it is much lighter, both regions prettily barred. The typical form in habits most of eastern North America, the Canadas, and northernmost United States dur ing the summer and the rest during the winter.
Except in the higher mountains, it is known in the New England and Middle States only in the latter season. It is a silent, secretive bird of the winter brush-heap and roadside, but withal bold and saucy and prone to state its opinion of intruders. The summer song is said to be powerful and musical, and the nest to be placed in a hole in a log or root near the ground. The eggs are white, spotted with red dish brown.
Of the genus Cistothorus, or marsh-wrens, we have three species, of which one (C. mart ante) is a Florida form. See MARSH-WREN.
hryothorus comprises the mocking wrens, of which T. ludorecianus, the great Carolina wren, is the best known Eastern species and the largest of the wrens of this region. It is six inches long, of which the tail is two and one third inches, about equaling the wings. It is nearly uniform bright reddish brown above with yellowish white under parts, a conspicuous white superciliary streak and the wings and tail cross-barred with black. It lives east of the plains, but is more abundant South and scarcely gets northward beyond Pennsylvania, in which region, however, it is becoming more plentiful of late years. It inhabits deserted buildings, old mills and shrubbery in secluded spots, and builds its nest in crannies in such places, laying six or more white eggs speckled with various shades of brown. The loud clear whistled song is very characteristic, and as this bird is scarcely migratory is heard in winter as well as summer in the neighborhood of Philadelphia. This bird also mimics the notes of others. Bewick's wren (T. bewicksi) is a related species very abundant in the interior southward, while a number of other species and subspecies of the same genus are found in the West and Southwest. In the latter region also, as well as in Mexico and southward, occur several large wrens which have broad spread ing tails composed of somewhat cuneate feath ers. Among these are the cactus wrens (q.v.), which build purse-shaped nests in bushes in the desert regions of Texas, etc., and the rock-wrens and canon-wrens (qq.v.), which live and nest in rocky places. They have loud ringing songs. In Europe are several species of Troglodytes, of which the beloved common or jenny wren (T. parinaus) is found in all parts of Europe, and in Morocco and Algeria, and in Asia Minor and northern Persia. In central Asia it is represented by T. pallidus, in Iceland and the Faroes by T. borealis and in Norway by T. berqensis. In England the vernacular name is also applied to various species of warblers and elsewhere to other small birds.
Consult Baird, Brewer and Ridgway, Birds of North America' (Boston 1874); Sharpe, (Catalogue Birds of the British Mu seum' (Vol. VI, London 1881) ; Cones, Elliott, of the Colorado Valley' (Washington 1878) ; Forbush, E. H., 'Useful Birds and their Protection' (Boston 1913); and 'Bulletin 30, United States Biological Survey.'