Wednesday Wings: The Story of the Kinglet

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In German, a wren or kinglet is known as a “Zaunkönig”, the king of the hedges, and this is how he got his name.

One day, the birds decided to crown a king. They wanted the strongest bird to be their king so he could protect them, and they decided to hold a competition. They would all fly towards the sun, and the bird who could fly the highest would be their king. They all flew as high as they could. First, the small birds needed to return to earth. Then the geese and swans. the falcon flew very high, but finally he had to give up. The eagle flew higher and higher until the sun burned his light plumage to a dark brown. Finally, he was at the end of his tether and turned around. But the small king of hedges, who was still called by a different name back then, had hidden himself between the feathers of the mighty eagle. He had waited for just that moment, and when the eagle turned around, he came out, flew a bit higher and sang his triumphant song, declaring himself king.

The eagle was very angry at the cheating little bird and swore to kill him. The little king of hedges flew into the thick hedges to hide from the eagle, who was named king by the other birds. He keeps hiding there to this very day, but he still sings his song about beating the eagle in a flying competition.


  1. rq says

    What a great story! It seems a lot of animals have acquired their status and names via cleverness and tricksiness. This story actually reminds me of a traditional story about why flies eat the food from your table and why they’re afraid of spiders. And why spiders lurk in corners.

  2. Nightjar says

    Lovely shot and story. Here wrens have their own word which as far as I know doesn’t have any other meaning (carriça) and our kinglets are all known as “little stars” (estrelinhas). I named one of my cats “Estrelinha” because when she was kitty her jumps and moves reminded of kinglets and she was the right colour too. Yes… I named a cat after a bird. Because why not. :)

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