Wrens are mostly tiny birds, little balls of fluff with a characteristic cocked tail. Although drably coloured, mostly in shades of brown, they are full of character and some species can be quite confiding even though most of their time is spent skulking in dense undergrowth. Their small size rounded wings make them highly manoeuverable in such obstacle-strewn habitats. Most also have a rich, melodious song, usually sung at a volume which belies their diminutive size.
Their scientific name derives from the Latin for 'cave-dwellers' a probable reference to their delicately constructed nests which have only a small opening to allow the parents in and out. Species are either monogamous, or as in the case of the European Wren, polygamous (males will mate with several females) and most are strongly territorial, at least during the breeding season, using their strong song to declare ownership. Males will construct many nests (often 6-12, but in some species as many as thirty) through the breeding season, singing to entice females (for whom he usually builds a completely new nest!).
Most wren species occur in the Americas, with only one, the Wren, occurring in Europe, which has a good claim to be the commonest bird in Britain (at least after a mild winter).