February 22, 2005

The Wrens at Dartmouth

The true wrens are members of a New World passerine bird family Troglodytidae containing 55 species.

A troglodyte means a cave-dweller, and 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 songs. These birds have short wings and a thin down-turned bill. Several species often hold their tails upright. All are insectivorous.

Only one wren, Troglodytes troglodytes, known as the Winter Wren in North America, also occurs in Europe, where it is commonly known simply as the Wren.

According to European folklore, the Wren is the King of the Birds. Long ago the birds held a contest to see who could fly the highest; at first it looked as though the Eagle would win easily, but just as the Eagle began to tire, the Wren crept out from under the Eagle's tail feathers and soared far above. The wren's majesty is recognized in such stories as the Grimm Brothers' The Willow-Wren and the Bear.

The wren also features in the legend of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who supposedly was betrayed by the noisy bird as he attempted to hide from his enemies. Traditionally, St. Stephen's Day has been commemorated by Hunting the Wren, wherein young Wren Boys would catch the bird and then ritually parade it around town. The tradition, and the significance of the wren as a symbol and sacrifice of the old year, is discussed in Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough.

The Wrens come to Fuel Rocket Club this Friday, at 9:30pm.


  1. Anonymous10:36 PM

    How the hell does one find out about bands coming to campus more than a few days beforehand?
    Does anybody put up flyers any more?
    If I end up missing Ted Leo or Xiu Xiu because no word is spread, I'll get even older and crankier.


  2. Good question. The FNR website is not exactly up to date.