God’s cock and hen

I woke up this morning to see something fluttering against the inside of the window-panes. Without my glasses, I couldn’t think what it was – it seemed too big for a moth and too small and whirring for a bird. It turned out to be a wren. They’re such nice things, but they are slightly unbirdy – like little russet mothmice.

Lucky it wasn’t a robin; I recently learnt from Birds Britannica that if a robin flies into your house it’s a omen of death. I assume that only applies to the European Robin and not its American namesake, but maybe the power of superstition is transferable through the power of names.

The robin and the wren are God’s cock and hen;
The spink and the sparrow are the de’il’s bow and arrow.

The ‘spink’ is the chaffinch. I guess it and the sparrow are damned mostly by rhyme and alliteration. You can find more wren rhymes and folklore here (pdf).

2 Comments

  1. 28 July 2006 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    We have that same species of wren over here, and also a larger one – the Carolina wren- which must surely be a very good omen. They are always somewhere around the house, singing incredibly upbeat songs.

  2. Harry
    29 July 2006 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    They’re really a New World family – only one species wandered across the Atlantic to Europe. I think they’re actually Britain’s commonest bird (though the population tends to crash in cold winters), but because they’re small and brown and spend most of their time lurking at the bottom of bushes, people don’t tend to notice them.

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