This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Common Wren (Troglodytes vulgaris), Fig. 25, is one of the smallest of our resident British birds, and averages about 4 in. in length. Of solitary habits, it prys into crevices and holes, nooks and corners, where few other birds go, and is found in woods, copses, hedgerows, pleasure grounds and gardens, often scrutinizing fruit-tree walls, and not infrequently visiting glass structures.
It is constantly in motion, searching for insects, which form its accustomed food.
Fig. 25. - The Common Wren and Nest of Young.
The nest of the wren is built in any convenient cranny; an ivy-covered tree, the thatch of a barn or cottage, or a hedge bottom, and is usually of an oven-like shape, covered on the outside with some material resembling the colour of the objects around it, such as green moss if built among ivy, or brown lichen if built on a rock or in the fork of a withered branch. The male sings sweetly in summer, pairing taking place about the middle of spring, nesting being effected in April; the eggs are six or eight in number, white, speckled with reddish brown. Two broods are produced annually. The colour of the birds is reddish brown, but white and pied varieties are sometimes seen.
The Golden-crested Wren (Regulus auricapillus), Fig. 26, known also as Golden-crested Regulus, or Kinglet, is a beautiful bird belonging to the family Sylviadae, distinguished by an orange crest. It is the smallest of British birds, being only about 3½ in. in length. The most usual haunts of the golden-crested wren are tall trees, particularly the oak, the yew, and the various species of fir and pine. During the greater part of the year it haunts tall trees, prying closely about the trunks and branches of firs, in woods and plantations, but in autumn and winter it visits gardens, even in the suburbs of large towns, and is very fearless of observers, allowing of close approach while it is engaged in hunting for insects in the stems and branches of trees. In the noontide of a hot summer or autumn day the little golden-crested wren flits noiselessly from spray to spray, with unwearied activity, in search of its food, fluttering over the slenderest twigs like a butterfly, now on one side, now on the other, sometimes above the branch, sometimes beneath, hanging with its head downwards, often at the end of it, suspended in the air by its tiny wings, which it quivers without the slightest sound, and its chirp is so low as only to betray its presence to quick ears, and more like that of an insect than a bird.
In spring and summer it sings regularly, beginning about the middle of March, and continuing till the end of July.
Fig. 26. - The Golden-crested Wren (right-hand figure), and Long-tailed Titmouse (left-hand figure).
The nest of the golden-crested wren is a very neat and elegant structure, usually placed on the underside of a fir-tree branch, sometimes open at the top, and at others covered with a dome, and has an opening on one side. The eggs are nine or ten in number, small round, and reddish-white in colour. In plumage, the golden-crested wren is a beautiful mixture of green and yellow, with white bars on the wings, and on its head the golden crest, bordered with black, from which it takes its name.
Fire-crested Wren (Regultis ignicapillus), a closely allied species to the golden-crested wren, is nearly 4 in. in length, and has a crest of a bright-red colour. It is of similar habits to the golden-crested wren, frequenting fir plantations and woods, also pleasure grounds and fruit plantations in autumn and winter, prying in thickets closely for food - eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult insects.