Shetland wren

The Shetland wren (Troglodytes troglodytes zetlandicus) is a small passerine bird in the wren family. It is a subspecies of the Eurasian wren endemic to the Shetland archipelago of Scotland, with the exception of Fair Isle which has its own endemic subspecies, the Fair Isle wren. The Shetland wren is distinguished by its darker and more rufous-brown colouring from the mainland form, with a heavily barred underside, the barring extending from belly to breast. The bill is stouter and longer and it has stronger legs.[1]

Shetland wren
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Troglodytidae
Genus: Troglodytes
T. t. zetlandicus
Trinomial name
Troglodytes troglodytes zetlandicus
Hartert, 1910


Adult birds are about 9 to 11 cm (3.5 to 4.3 in) and the sexes are similar in this species. As compared to the Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), it is much darker in colouration, especially the crown and nape which are nearly black. The barring on the upper parts is blacker and the markings on the lores and ear coverts are darker brown. The throat and breast are brownish-buff rather than white and the dark speckling on the belly extends further up the flanks and breast. The beak is dark brown and the sturdy legs are mid-brown.[2] The song is rather louder and more varied than the Eurasian wren, perhaps to make it more audible on the boulder beaches where it mainly breeds.[3]

Distribution and habitatEdit

This wren is endemic to the Shetland Islands. It is found on and near cliffs and rocky shores, around crofts and walls.[2] The main breeding habitat of Shetland wrens is boulder beaches, though when population levels increase some birds will nest further inland, in bushes or beside streams.[3]


An estimate of the population, dating back to the start of the 21st century, was of 1500–3000 breeding pairs.[3]


  1. ^ McGowan, R.Y.; Clugston, D.L.; & Forrester, R.W. (2003). Scotland's endemic subspecies. Scottish Birds 24: 18–35.
  2. ^ a b Witherby, Harry Forbes; Jourdain, F.C.R.; Ticehurst, Norman F.; Tucker, Bernard W. (1948). The Handbook of British Birds: Warblers to Owls. H.F. & G. Witherby Ltd. pp. 218–219.
  3. ^ a b c "Shetland Wren". Nature in Shetland. Retrieved 4 March 2020.