Hunting the Wren 1



I first read the story about the King of the Birds in my infant school . It is an ancient story recorded by Aesop, Aristotle and Plutarch. The narrative is spread far and wide - though often featuring a common local small bird. Versions are told in both Indian and Zulu cultures and probably many more. A very short version of the story follows:

The birds agreed they needed a king.one day . After some discussion about their individual virtues it was agreed that the most distinctive feature of birds is their ability.to fly . They therefore decided to hold a contest to see who could fly the highest. Just as a weary eagle reached his ultimate altitude the wren flew up from its hiding place on his back and won the contest.- thus becoming King of the Birds.

A fine tale for little children - reassuring them that being small does not prevent them overcoming greater size and strength. It clearly made an impression on this young reader...

According to the RSPB the wren is the commonest British bird. There are certainly a fair few living in Brook Acres During last winter's snow they were much easier to spot scuttling about where dead leaves would have camouflaged them. I recently discovered that one of the reasons for the large population is that wrens often have two broods and two nests. The male leads nestlings from their home nest into the other - allowing the female to lay another clutch of eggs. This made me wonder about a memorable sight we had one spring. My wife called me urgently into the back garden - just in time to see half a dozen or so tiny brown pom-poms scaling a board fence and disappearing into the ivy at its top. Were the nestlings being led to their second nest?

So why should anyone wish to hunt and kill such a delightful and insubstantial creature? For the answer to this question you will have either to wait for the second part of this post or come to:

Our Christmas Past with Rough at the Edges on Friday 7th. November.


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