As part of our Winter Theme we have been learning about the two smallest birds in Ireland, the Goldcrest and the Wren. We learned a song called “Hunting The Wren,” which was traditionally sung in the Isle of Man on St. Stephen’s Day. We also performed a little play showing how the wren became the king of the birds.
Here are some facts that you might find interesting:
- The Goldcrest is Europe’s smallest bird. It weighs only 7 grams, the weight of a letter! It is very busy at this time of year as it needs to eat 50 to 100 greenflies, spiders and other bugs a minute to survive!
- The wren is the second smallest bird in Ireland. It weighs only 10 grams more and you can find it in low bushes and hedges. It often looks for food on the ground under leaves and fallen branches.
- Only once a year, at the winter solstice, could a wren be captured. The apprentice druid would hunt down a wren and bring it around the houses of the village as a sign of new insight and knowledge in the New Year.
- In Ireland, St. Stephen’s Day is the day for “Hunting the Wren” or “Going on the Wren.” Originally, groups of small boys would hunt for a wren and then chase the bird until they either caught it or it died from exhaustion. The dead bird was tied to the top of a pole or holly bush, which was decorated with ribbons or coloured paper.
- Wrens are in the family of birds known as “Troglodytes”, which is Latin for “creeper into holes” and “cave dweller” – a good name for a bird that nests in almost any small cavity.
We really enjoyed learning about these tiny birds!