What’s in a name?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wrens -

Not sur­pris­ingly for such a com­mon and wide­spread bird, the wren has a mul­ti­tude of folk names. These in­clude ‘titty’ and ‘titty-wren’, along with vari­ants such as ‘cutty-wren’, ‘chitty‘wren’ and ‘tid­dly-creeper’. There’s also ‘tomtit’ and ‘tom in the wall’ – in which ‘tom’ sig­ni­fies some­thing small, as in the chil­dren’s fairy tale Tom Thumb. ‘Two-fingers’ is an­other ref­er­ence to its small size; and there’s ‘stumpy’, ‘stumpit’ and ‘stumpy-dick’, all of which re­fer to the wren’s most prom­i­nent fea­ture – its stick­ing-up tail. But by far the most fa­mil­iar to most of us is the nick­name ‘Jenny wren’.

Clock­wise from top left: a mother feed­ing a grasshop­per to a fledg­ling; these birds fly fast, in a blur of wings; nests are built in all sorts of places; wrens sing with wings out­stretched; the species spends much of its time un­der cover.

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