|Family: Troglodytidae (Wrens)
“Die for adultery? No! The wren goes to ‘t.” Shakespeare’s King Lear understood the mating habits of wrens. Males mate with as many females as they can attract to their stick nests–usually one or two but occasionally three. And females may move on to another male as soon as their brood fledges.
This would be the only wren Shakespeare could have been familiar with, because it’s the only wren found in the Old World, ranging from the U.K. and Europe across the Palearctic, including a belt of Asia from northern Iran and Afghanistan across to Japan. It is migratory only in the northern parts of its range.
Ornithologists believe the wren family originated in the American tropics and radiated from there. The northernmost wren in America is the Pacific Wren (which not that long ago was considered conspecific with the Winter Wren). The belief is that this species crossed via the Bering Strait into Asia and extended its range from there. When I started birding, all three of these wrens were considered the same species, called the “Winter Wren” by the American Ornithologists’ Union and the Wren by the British Ornithologists’ Union.
Of the three species, to my ears the Winter Wren has the loveliest song. (That’s why I use it as my ringtone.) All three songs have pretty much the same assortment of notes, but the Winter Wren’s are delivered about half as rapidly. Most human ears cannot resolve individual notes delivered as rapidly as the Pacific and Eurasian Wrens’, giving them a buzzier quality.
The only time I was in Europe I missed this one.