AskDefine | Define wren

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wren \Wren\ (r[e^]n), n. [OE. wrenne, AS. wrenna, wr[ae]nna, perhaps akin to wr[=ae]ne lascivious.] [1913 Webster]
(Zool.) Any one of numerous species of small singing birds belonging to Troglodytes and numerous allied of the family Troglodytidae. [1913 Webster] Note: Among the species best known are the house wren (Troglodytes aedon) common in both Europe and America, and the American winter wren (Troglodytes hiemalis). See also Cactus wren, Marsh wren, and Rock wren, under Cactus, Marsh, and Rock. [1913 Webster]
(Zool.) Any one of numerous species of small singing birds more or less resembling the true wrens in size and habits. [1913 Webster] Note: Among these are several species of European warblers; as, the reed wren (see Reed warbler (a), under Reed), the sedge wren (see Sedge warbler, under Sedge), the willow wren (see Willow warbler, under Willow), the golden-crested wren, and the ruby-crowned wren (see Kinglet). [1913 Webster] Ant wren, any one of numerous South American birds of the family Formicaridae, allied to the ant thrushes. Blue wren, a small Australian singing bird (Malurus cyaneus), the male of which in the breeding season is bright blue. Called also superb warbler. Emu wren. See in the Vocabulary. Wren babbler, any one of numerous species of small timaline birds belonging to Alcippe, Stachyris, Timalia, and several allied genera. These birds are common in Southern Asia and the East Indies. Wren tit. See Ground wren, under Ground. Wren warbler, any one of several species of small Asiatic and African singing birds belonging to Prinia and allied genera. These birds are closely allied to the tailor birds, and build their nests in a similar manner. See also Pincpinc. [1913 Webster]

Word Net



1 English architect who designed more than fifty London churches (1632-1723) [syn: Sir Christopher Wren]
2 and of several small active brown birds of the northern hemisphere with short upright tails; they feed on insects [syn: jenny wren]




  1. Members of a mainly New World passerine bird family Troglodytidae.
  2. Small bird of similar appearance to a true wren.

Related terms


The wrens are passerine birds in the mainly New World family Troglodytidae. There are about 80 species of true wrens in about 20 genera, though the name is also ascribed to other unrelated birds throughout the world.
Troglodyte means "cave-dweller", and the wrens get their scientific name from the tendency of some species to forage in dark crevices. They are mainly small and inconspicuous except for their loud and often complex songs. These birds have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous, though some also feed on vegetable matter, and the larger—sometimes notably bold—species in of the genus Campylorhynchus will take small vertebrates (e.g. lizards).
They range in size from the White-bellied Wren, which averages under 10 cm (4 in.) and 9 grams, to the Giant Wren, which averages at about 22 cm (8.7 in.) and 50 grams (1.8 oz). The dominating colours are grey, brown, black and white, and most species show some barring, especially to tail and/or wings.
Only one species occurs in the Old World, where it is commonly known simply as the "Wren"; it is called Winter Wren in North America. The various species occur in a wide range of habitats, ranging from dry, sparsely wooded country to rainforest. The vast majority are found at low levels, but some members of the genus Campylorhynchus and both members of the genus Odontorchilus are commonly found at canopy height. A few species, notably the Winter Wren and the House Wren, are often associated with humans.
The 27 Australasian "wren" species in the family Maluridae are unrelated, as are the New Zealand wrens in the family Acanthisittidae, the antwrens in the family Thamnophilidae, and the Wren-Babblers of the family Timaliidae.

Genus list in taxonomic order

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 taxa are 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 (Alström et al. 2006).
  • Genus Troglodytes (10-15 species, depending on taxonomy; includes Nannus which may be distinct however)


  • Alström, Per; Ericson, Per G.P.; Olsson, Urban & Sundberg, Per (2006): Phylogeny and classification of the avian superfamily Sylvioidea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38(2): 381–397.
  • Mann, Nigel I.; Barker, F. Keith; Graves, Jeff A.; Dingess-Mann, Kimberly A. & Slater, Peter J. B. (2006): Molecular data delineate four genera of "Thryothorus" wrens. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40: 750–759. (HTML abstract)
  • Martínez Gómez, Juan E.; Barber, Bruian R. & Peterson, A. Townsend (2005): Phylogenetic position and generic placement of the Socorro Wren (Thryomanes sissonii). Auk 122(1): 50–56. [English with Spanish abstract] DOI:10.1642/0004-8038(2005)122[0050:PPAGPO]2.0.CO;2 PDF fulltext

External links

wren in German: Zaunkönige
wren in Spanish: Troglodytidae
wren in Esperanto: Trogloditedoj
wren in French: Troglodytinae
wren in Western Frisian: Tomkes
wren in Ido: Troglodito
wren in Lithuanian: Karetaitiniai
wren in Limburgan: Winterkeuninkskes
wren in Hungarian: Ökörszemfélék
wren in Malay (macrolanguage): Burung ren
wren in Dutch: Winterkoningen
wren in Dutch Low Saxon: Troglodytidae
wren in Japanese: ミソサザイ亜科 (Sibley)
wren in Polish: Strzyżyki
wren in Portuguese: Troglodytinae
wren in Russian: Крапивниковые
wren in Finnish: Peukaloiset
wren in Swedish: Gärdsmygar
wren in Vietnamese: Họ Hồng tước
wren in Turkish: Çit kuşugiller
wren in Chinese: 鹪鹩科
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