Johnny Magory - Wren

Wren – Dreoilín

The average lifespan of these birds is 2 to 3 years. The oldest recorded Wren was 6 years and 8 months old. The wren is one of Ireland’s smallest birds. Wrens are readily recognised by their rich brown plumage and short cocked tail which they flick repeatedly. They usually only fly short distances in a steady straight line with rapid wing beats.

A wren’s diet is largely based upon insects and spiders. They are particularly partial to beetles hence the reason that they usually feed close to the ground. Wrens there relatively long bill to probe into nooks and crannies on the ground. This may explain their Latin name Troglodytes which means cave dweller.

A wren’s nest is made from grass, moss and leaves. The male builds the main globe-shaped nest in a tree, ivy, bush, wall, bank, or an open-fronted nest boxes. He will build a number of nests from which the female chooses one. When she makes her choice she completes the nest construction by feathering the inside.

Traditionally in Ireland the 26th December is known as Lá an Dreoilín or Wren’s Day. The tradition is of Celtic origin and people hunt a fake wren, placing it on top of a decorated pole. Then the ”wrenboys” celebrate the wren by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colourful clothing and parading through towns and villages.

Although small, they are known as the king of the birds. One day, all the birds came together to see which of them would be king. To do this, they began to fly upwards to see which of them would fly the highest. While the birds were soaring upwards, the wren sat under the eagle’s wing. When the eagle stopped soaring, the wren came out from under his wing and flew higher. The wren became king that day.