This is the egg of the commonest and most widespread bird in the British Isles. Not the sparrow or the starling, the pigeon or the seagull – but the wren! It lives in every kind of environment – wherever there are nooks and crannies for it to make a nest. Its Latin name - Troglodytes troglodytes – means ‘cave dweller’.
Wrens, like robins, are famous for making their nests in all sorts of weird and wonderful places. Known nest sites include the base of an old magpie’s nest currently used by kestrels; the lower branches of cabbage and brocolli plants; trousers and jackets on washing lines; the running board of a lorry which drove twice and week from Kent to Covent garden; inside a human skull …
This habit of making a nest anywhere might lie behind the story of St Malo and the wren. Malo was born in Wales in the sixth century and may have been a companion of St Brendan on his voyages. His life story was written down long after his death and includes this tale:
‘He was a follower of Paul the Apostle, whose own hands supplied his wants if aught were lacking. When he had leisure from his task of preaching the Gospel, he kept himself by the work of his hands. One day he was busy with the brethren in the vineyard, pruning the vines, and for better speed in his work took off his cloak and laid it out of sight. When his work was done and he came to take his cloak, he found that the small bird which common folk call a wren had laid an egg on it. Knowing that God's care is not far from the birds, since not one of them falls on the ground without the Father, he let his cloak lie there, till the eggs were hatched and the wren brought out her brood. And this was the marvel, that all the time that cloak lay there, there fell no rain upon it. And whoever came to hear of it glorified the power of God and praised God's own pity in man.’
‘While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.’
(Matthew 26. 6-7)
‘We thank you, Father, that each one of us is precious in your sight. Even though we seem so small and insignificant, you love each one of us. Amen.’