WREN (AS. wreana, irralina. wren perhaps connected with AS. irrrrue, wanton). A sub family of birds (TroglodytinT) of the family Troglodytidas the other members of which are the mocking-birds and thrashers (qq.v.). The wrens have a slender, slightly curved, and pointed bill, the edge Of the mandibles entire; the wings very short and rounded; the tail short and often carried erect; the legs slender and rather long. Their plumage is generally dull. There are about 150 species, natives chiefly of the Northern Hemisphere, and most of them are American. They live on or near the ground, seek ing for insects and worms among low bushes, and in other similar situations. Perhaps the best known species. and a good example of the group, is the European wren (Troylodytex rul garis). It is only about four inches long, red dish brown above, with narrow transverse streaks of dark brown, yellowish white below, the greater wins-coverts with three or four small bead-like spots of white. It frequents gardens, hedges, and thickets, flitting from bush to bush, or from one stone to another. The male has a loud, sweet song. The nest is large for the size of the bird, oval, domed above, with an opening on the side. and is composed of hay or moss, lined with feathers, and is often placed under the thatch of a building, against the side of a moss-covered tree, or elsewhere so as to be sheltered from rain.
No other true wren is found in Europe, but the United States has a dozen or more species. several of which agree very closely in color and habits with the European type. Such a one is the familiar house-wren (Troglodytes ai'dmi), abundant in the eastern parts of the United States. It is less shy than the European wren, and often builds its nest near houses, and in boxes prepared for it. The nests are made to fill the boxes; and to effect this, a large mass of heterogeneous materials Is sometimes collected.
The song of the house-wren is simple but sweet. The male is a very bold, pugnacious bird. In the southern half of the United States another very similar species, Rewick's wren (7'roglodytes Beirickii), is prevalent. It has a much longer tail than the house-wren, but behaves in the same way, and its nest and eggs (see Plate of EGGS OF So:xi:14am) are of the typical pattern. The winter wren ( Troglodytes hichialis) i,, similar to the European wren. It is vommon throughout North Arneriva, but is migratory, breeding ill Canada and wintering in the SoutIn states. It is noted for the surprising loudness as well as the musical quality of its spring song.
The other wrens of the United states belong to several different genera. Among the best known is the Carolina wren (Thryolborus Gudo rkirnitss). a rather southerly species breeding as far north as Connecticut and wintering from Maryland southward. it is a large species, 5V2 inches long, with considerable white in the plumag.e. This bird is one of the most varied and cheerful vocalists in Americo: it sings a sweet and gleeful medley of notes. some of which seem culled from other bird-songs. so that this fine species is popularly called the 'mocking' wren. (See Plate of WRENS, WARBLERS. ETC.) other wrens, except marsh-wrens are main ly denizens of the West and Southwest. The cactus-wrens of the genus Heleodytes (large brownish birds frequenting the growing plains of the Mexican border), and the eafion-wrens of the genus Catherpes, inhabiting the rocky defiles of the southern Rocky Moun tain region and noted for their brilliant singing. are conspicuous Western species; also the rock wren (q.v.).
Consult British and North American authori ties, cited under BIRD, especially Cones. Birds of the Colorado l'allcy (Washington, 1878).