the Winter King

Subject: the Winter King
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Wed, 09 Feb 2000 10:53:52 +0100
>Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2000 09:23:56 +0100
>To: birdchat
>From: Wim Vader <>
>Subject: the Winter King

        Written in response to a wonderful piece 'tribute to the winter wren' by
Ole Post on Birdchat.
>       Ole Post has done it again! He sure is a master in drawing up a portrait
of a common bird that is so lively that on reading it you see the bird in
front of your eyes.
>       In Dutch the Winter Wren is called the Winterkoning, the winter king, 
> and
the origin of this name lies in the same legend, that has resulted in names
like Kinglet (or, in Norwegian, Fuglekonge=bird king, for the Goldcrest and
relatives).I feel, however that the story does make much more sense with
the Winter Wren as a protagonist, precisely because of its combative
>       The story goes as follows: the birds decided to choose a king. As always
in such circumstances, the criteria by which the choice should be made
caused trouble: the guillemot proposed the deepest diver as king, the
flamingo the longest neck. But the eagle, the strongest of them all, laid
down the law: we choose that bird as king who can fly the highest, or
>       So all the birds, except the poor penguins and ostriches, flew up. And
soon it became clear that the eagle had made a prudent choice of
criterium---one bird after another had to give up, until finally only the
eagle soared above all the others. Even eagles need to descend after a
while, however. And at that exact moment the little Winter Wren came out of
the back feathers where he had been hiding all the time, flew a little bit
higher still, and crowed with typical wren exuberance: I am the king, I am
the king of all the birrrrrds!
>               This was clearly cheating, though, and all the other birds 
> ganged up and
ostracized the wren, so that it only feels safe in the worst tangles and
brush-piles, where the others can't get at it. In winter, though, when many
of the other birds have left the area, it regularly comes forth, sticks up
its head, and tail, and thrillers: I am the king, I am the king of all the
birrrds!! And that is why this bird in Dutch is called winterkoning, the
winter king.
>               I think you will agree, that this story works much better with 
> the wren
as protagonist than with the kinglets, crowned and feisty as those  are.
>                                               Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
>                                               9037 Tromsø, Norway

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