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The wrens are mostly small, brownish 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.[1]
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Etymology and usage[edit]
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).
In Dutch, the name is winterkoninkje (little winter king).
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.

Description[edit]
Wrens are medium-small to very small birds. The Eurasian wren is among
the smallest birds in its range, while the smaller species from
the Americas are among the smallest passerines in that part of the world.
They range in size from the white-bellied wren, which averages under
10 cm (3.9 in) and 9 g (0.32 oz), to the giant wren, which averages about
22 cm (8.7 in) and weighs almost 50 g (1.8 oz). The dominating colors of
their plumage are generally drab, composed of gray, brown, black, and
white, and most species show some barring, especially to tail and/or wings.
No sexual dimorphism is seen in the plumage of wrens, and little difference
exists between young birds and adults.[1] All have fairly long, straight to
marginally decurved bills.[1]
Wrens have loud and often complex songs, sometimes given in duet by a
pair. The song of members of the
genera Cyphorhinus and Microcerculus have been considered especially
pleasant to the human ear, leading to common names such as song
wren, musician wren, flutist wren, and southern nightingale-wren.[1]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Cobb's wren is an insular endemic, restricted to the Falkland Islands


Wrens are principally a New World family, distributed
from Alaska and Canada to southern Argentina, with the greatest species
richness in the Neotropics. As suggested by its name, the Eurasian wren is
the only species of wren found outside the Americas, as restricted to
Europe, Asia, and northern Africa (it was formerly
considered conspecific with the winter wren and Pacific wren of North
America). The insular species include the Clarión wren and Socorro
wren from the Revillagigedo Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and Cobb's
wren in the Falkland Islands, but few Caribbean islands have a species of
wren, with only the southern house wren in the Lesser Antilles, the
Cozumel wren of Cozumel Island, and the highly restricted Zapata wren in
a single swamp in Cuba.
The various species occur in a wide range of habitats, ranging from dry,
sparsely wooded country to rainforest. Most species are mainly found at
low levels, but members of the genus Campylorhynchus are frequently
found higher, and the two members of Odontorchilus are restricted to
the forest canopy.[1] A few species, notably the Eurasian wren and the
house wren, are often associated with humans. Most species are resident,
remaining in Central and South America all year round, but the few species
found in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere are partially
migratory, spending the winter further south.

Behavior and ecology[edit]


Wrens vary from highly secretive species such as those found in the
genus Microcerculus to the highly conspicuous genus Campylorhynchus,
the members of which frequently sing from exposed perches. The family as
a whole exhibits a great deal of variation in their behavior. Temperate
species generally occur in pairs, but some tropical species may occur in
parties of up to 20 birds.[1]
Wrens build dome-shaped nests, and may be
either monogamous or polygamous, depending on species.[7]
Though little is known about the feeding habits of many of the Neotropical
species, wrens are considered primarily insectivorous, eating insects,
spiders, and other small arthropods.[1] Many species also take vegetable
matter such as seeds and berries, some (primarily the larger species) take
small frogs and lizards; the Eurasian wren has been recorded wading into
shallow water to catch small fish and tadpoles; Sumichrast's wren and
the Zapata wren take snails; and the giant wren and marsh wren have been
recorded attacking and eating bird eggs (in the latter species, even eggs of
conspecifics).[1] A local Spanish name for the giant wren and bicolored
wren is chupahuevo ("egg-sucker"), but whether the latter actually eats
eggs is unclear.[1] The plain wren and northern house wren sometimes
destroy bird eggs, and the rufous-and-white wren has been recorded killing
nestlings, but this is apparently to eliminate potential food competitors
rather than feed on the eggs or nestlings.[1] Several species of Neotropical
wrens sometimes participate in mixed-species flocks or follow army ants,
and the Eurasian wren may follow badgers to catch prey items disturbed by
them.[1]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]


Revised following Martínez Gómez et al. (2005) and Mann et al. (2006), the
taxonomy of some groups is highly complex, and future species-level splits
are likely. Additionally, undescribed taxaare known to exist. The black-
capped donacobius is an enigmatic species traditionally placed with the
wrens more for lack of a more apparent alternative and/or thorough study.
It was more recently determined to be most likely closer to certain warblers,
possibly the newly established Megaluridae, and might constitute
a monotypic family.[8]
Family Troglodytidae