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Part or all of this article has been imported from the 1911 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported text may be significantly out of date, and any more recent developments may be completely missing
|Common Name:||Wren (Winter Wren)|
|Scientific Name:||Troglodytes troglodytes zetlandicus|
|French Name:||Troglodyte mignon|
|Gaelic Name:||Dreathan donn|
|Best Places:||Boulder beaches, along streams, low bushes. Found throughout Shetland but scarce on some of the outlying islands.|
|Faroese name means "Mouse's Brother". "Troglodyte" means "cave dweller".|
Although migrant wrens from Europe visit Shetland there is an endemic race Troglodytes troglodytes zetlandicus, that remains on Shetland throughout the year and was first described by Ernst Hartert in 1910.<ref>See Ernst Hartert on Wikipedia</ref> The Shetland subspecies tends to have longer legs and bills (therefore appearing 'stronger-looking') than those elsewhere Britain, and are darker in colour than those in continental Europe:
- ""Darker and more rufous brown than the mainland form with underside heavily barred, barring generally extending from abdomen to breast, bill longer and stouter, stronger legs."<ref>"Shetland Wren" in McGowan, RY, Clugston, DL & Forrester, RW (2003) Scotland's endemic subspecies. Scot. Birds 24: 18-35.</ref>
The most recent Shetland population estimate in 2004 was considered to be between 1,500 and 3,000 pairs Birds of Shetland (Book), but is likely to fluctuate signifiacntly as such a small bird is particularly susceptible to harsh winters. They are found throughout Shetland but tend to be scarce on the outlying islands. Another distinctive subspecies Troglodytes troglodyes fridarensis (Fair Isle Wren) also exists exclusively on Fair Isle.
It is a little brown bird with its short tail, cocked on high inquisitive and familiar, that braves the winter of the British Isles, and even that of the European continent. Great interest is taken in this bird throughout all European countries, and, though in Britain comparatively few vernacular names have been applied to it, two of them " jenny " or " kitty-wren " are terms of endearment. M. Holland records no fewer than 139 local names for it in France; and Italy, Germany and other lands are only less prolific. Many of these carry on the old belief that the wren was the king of birds, a belief connected with the fable that once the fowls of the air resolved to choose for their leader that one of them which should mount highest. This the eagle seemed to do, and all were ready to accept his rule, when a loud burst of song was heard, and perched upon him was seen the wren, which unseen had been borne aloft by the giant. The curious association of this bird with the Feast of the Three Kings, on which day in S. Wales, or, in Ireland and in the South of France, on or about Christmas Day, men and boys used to "hunt the wren," addressing it in a song as " the king of birds," is remarkable.
Wrens have the bill slender and somewhat arched: their food consists of insects, larvae and spiders, but they will also take any small creatures, such as worms and snails, and occasionally eat seeds. The note is shrill. The nest is usually a domed structure of ferns, grass, moss and leaves, lined with hair or feathers, and from three to nine eggs are produced.
This article contains text from the article wren in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica <references/>