Wren 1

WrenDuring a long stretch of the twentieth century the widespread, Holarctic, (Winter) Wren was considered to be one species comprising various forms, collectively named Troglodytes troglodytes. An extensive species, it was divided into subgenera (such as Anorthura and Olbiorchilus) to deal with the diversity, demoted to subspecies rank since. (Anorthura = cocked tail bird – anorthos (ανορθos) = erect, oura (ούρά) = tail; Olbiorchilus = happy wren – Greek olbios = happy, orkhilus = wren.) The latest taxonomic shift seems to be towards three species, for which an old genus has been revived, Nannus (from Greek nannos = dwarf). The species are Nannus troglodytes, Nannus pacificus and Nannus hiemalis. Here I will have a look at their subspecific names, most of which relate to regions and persons although some diverge from this.

Eurasian Wren, Nannus troglodytes = cave-dwelling dwarf – nannus = dwarf, from Greek nannos, troglodytes = cave dweller, from Greek trōglodutēs – described by Linneaus as Motacilla Troglodytes in the 1758 edition of his Systema naturae10 (Holmiae: Impensis Laurentii Salvii, 1758) p. 188.

Winter Wren = Nannus hiemalishiemalis from Latin hiems = winter – described by Louis J.P. Vieillot as Troglodytes hiemalis, Troglodyte d’hiver, in Nouveau dictionnaire d’histoire naturelle vol. 34 (1819) p. 514.

  • N.h. hiemalis = Winter Wren – nominate form – ascribed to Louis J.P. Vieillot for his description of the protonym Troglodytes hiemalis, above – range: east Canada, north-east USA;
  • N.h. pullus = Blackish Wren – from Latin pullus = dark-coloured, blackish – described by Thomas D. Burleigh as Nannus hiemalis pullus, Southern Winter Wren, in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington vol. 48 (1935) pp. 61–62 – range: mountains of West Virginia to Georgia (east-central USA).

Pacific Wren = Nannus pacificus – described by American naturalist Spencer Fullerton Baird as Troglodytes hyemalis var. pacificus in Review of American birds in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1864) p. 145–146.

  • N.p. alascensis = Alaska Wren – for Alaska – described by American naturalist Spencer F. Baird as Troglodytes alascensis in Transactions of the Chicago Academy of Sciences vol. 1, pt. 2 (1869) p. 315 – range: Pribilof Islands (south-west of Alaska);
  • N.p. helleri = Heller’s Wren – patronym for American zoologist Edmund Heller – Heller collected the initial five specimen with Wilfred H. Osgood, who described it as Anorthura hiemalis helleri, Kadiak Winter Wren, in Auk vol. 18 (1901), p. 181–182 – range: Kodiak and Afognak Islands (south of Alaskan Peninsula);
  • N.p. kiskensis = Kiska Wren – for Kiska – described by American ornithologist Harry C. Oberholser as Nannus troglodites kiskensis in Proceedings of the United States National Museum vol. 55 (1920) pp. 228–229, range: west Aleutian Islands;
  • N.p. meligerus = Melodious Wren – from Greek meligērus = melodious, sweet-voiced – described by American ornithologist Harry C. Oberholser as Anothura meligera in Auk vol. 17 (1900), pp. 25–26 – range: western-most Aleutian Islands;
  • N.p. muiri = Muir’s Wren – patronym for Scottish-American naturalist and preservationist John Muir – described by Amadeo M. Rea as Troglodytes troglodytes muiri, Muir’s Winter Wren, in Allan R. Phillips, The Known Birds of North and Middle America: Distribution and Variation, Migrations, Changes, Hybrids, etc.: Part I Hirundinidae to Mimidae, Certhiidae (Denver, CO: Denver Museum of Natural History, 1986), p. 140 – range: south-west Oregon to central California (west USA);
  • N.p. obscurior; = Dark Wren – from Latin obscurus = dark – described by Amadeo M. Rea as Troglodytes troglodytes obscurior, Central California Winter Wren, in Allan R. Phillips, The Known Birds of North and Middle America: Distribution and Variation, Migrations, Changes, Hybrids, etc.: Part I Hirundinidae to Mimidae, Certhiidae (Denver, CO: Denver Museum of Natural History, 1986), p. 140 – range: interior west USA, also coastal central California (west USA);
  • N.p. ochroleucus = Yellow-white Wren – from Greek ōkhros = yellow-ochre, leukos = white – described by Amadeo M. Rea as Troglodytes troglodytes ochroleucus in Allan R. Phillips, The Known Birds of North and Middle America: Distribution and Variation, Migrations, Changes, Hybrids, etc.: Part I Hirundinidae to Mimidae, Certhiidae (Denver, CO: Denver Museum of Natural History, 1986), p. 138 – range: islands south of Alaskan Peninsula;
  • N.p. pacificus = Pacific Wren – nominate form – ascribed to American naturalist Spencer F. Baird for his description of the protonym Troglodytes hyemalis var. pacificus, above – range: south-east Alaska, west Canada, north-west USA;
  • N.p. petrophilus = Rock-loving Wren – from Greek petros = rock, philos = loving – described by American ornithologist Harry C. Oberholser as Nannus troglodites petrophilus in Proceedings of the United States National Museum vol. 55 (1920) pp. 232–233 – range: Unalaska (east Aleutians);
  • N.p. salebrosus = Rough Wren – from Latin salebrosus = rough, rugged – described by Thomas D. Burleigh as Troglodytes troglodytes salebrosus in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington vol. 72 (1959) pp. 16–17 – range: interior north-west USA and south-west Canada;
  • N.p. seguamensis – Seguam Wren – for Seguam Island – described by American naturalist Ira N. Gabrielson and Frederick C. Lincoln as Troglodytes troglodytes seguamensis, Seguam Winter Wren, in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington vol. 64 (1951) p. 73 – range: central Aleutians;
  • N.p. semidiensis = Semidi Wren – for the Semidi Islands – described by Winthrop S. Brooks as Nannus hiemalis semidiensis, Semidi Winter Wren, in Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College, in Cambridge vol. 59 (1915) p. 400 – range: Semidi Islands (south of Alaskan Peninsula);
  • N.p. stevensoni = Stevenson’s Wren – patronym for Donald H. Stevenson who collected specimen with O.J. Murie – described by American ornithologist Harry C. Oberholser in Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington vol. 43 (1930) pp. 151–152 – range: Alaskan Peninsula (south-west Alaska);
  • N.p. tanagensis = Tanaga Wren – for Tanaga Island – described by American ornithologist Harry C. Oberholser as Nannus troglodites petrophilus in Proceedings of the United States National Museum vol. 55 (1920) pp. 230–231 – range: west-central Aleutian Islands.
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