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WRYNECK (Ger. Wendehals, Dutch draaih...

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 854 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WRYNECK (Ger. Wendehals, Dutch draaihalzen, Fr. torcol), a bird so called from its way of writhing its head and neck, especially when captured on its nest in a hollow tree. The lynx' torquilla is a regular summer visitant to most parts of Europe, generally arriving a few days before the cuckoo, and is known in England as " cuckoo's leader " and " cuckoo's mate," but occasionally is called " snake-bird," not only from the undulatory motions just mentioned, but from the violent hissing with which it seeks to repel an intruder from its hole? The unmistakable note of the wryneck is merely a repetition of what may be syllabled que, que, gue, many times in succession, rapidly uttered at first, but gradually slowing and in a continually falling key. This is only heard during a few weeks, and for the rest of the bird's stay in Europe it seems to be mute. It feeds almost exclusively on insects, especially on ants. It is larger than a sparrow, but its plumage is not easily described, being beautifully variegated with black, brown, buff and grey—the last produced by minute specks of blackish-brown on a light ground—the darker markings disposed in patches, vermiculated bars, freckles, streaks or arrowheads—and the whole blended most harmoniously, so as to recall the coloration of a goatsucker (g.v.) or of a woodcock (q.v.). The wryneck commonly lays its translucent white eggs on the bare wood of a hole in a tree, and it is one of the few wild birds that can be induced to go on laying by abstracting its eggs day after day, and thus upwards of forty have been taken from a single hole—hut the proper complement is from six to ten. As regards Britain, the bird is most common in the S.E., its numbers decreasing rapidly towards the W. and N., so that in Cornwall and Wales and beyond Cheshire and Yorkshire its occurrence is but rare, while it appears only by accident in Scotland and Ireland. Some writers have been inclined to recognize five other species of the genus lynx; but the so-called I, japonica is specifically in-distinguishable from I. torquilla; while that designated, through a mistake in the locality assigned to it, I. indica, has been found to be identical with the I. pectoralis of S. Africa. Near to this is I. pulchricoll is, discovered by Emin Pasha in the E. of the Bar-el-Djebel (This, 1884, p. 28, pl. iii.). Another distinct African species is the I. aequatorialis, originally described from Abyssinia. The wrynecks (see WOODPECKER) form a subfamily Iynginae of the Picidae, from the more normal groups of which they differ but little in internal structure, but much in coloration and in having the tail-quills flexible, or at least not stiffened to serve as props as in the climbing Picinae. (A. N.) WRY-NECK (Lat. Torticollis), a congenital or acquired deformity, characterized by the affected side of the head being drawn downwards towards the shoulder together with deviation of the face towards the sound side. There are various forms. (1) The congenital, due to a lesion of the sterno-mastoid muscle, either the result of a malposition in utero or due to the rupture of the muscle in the delivery of the aftercoming head in the birth of the breech presentation. (2) The rheumatic, due to exposure to a draught or cold. This is commonly known as " stiff-neck." (3) The nervous or spasmodic, the result of (a) direct irritation of the spinal accessory nerve or its roots, or (b) the result of cerebral irritation. In this form there is generally a family history of nervous diseases, notably epilepsy. This spasm is one of a group of nervous spasms known as " tics," a variety of habit spasm. The character of the movements varies with the muscles involved, the most usual muscle being the sternomastoid. The spasm ceases during sleep. Many cases are also due to hysteria and some to spinal caries. When wry-neck is congenital, massage and manipulation may be tried and some form of apparatus. Failing this, division of the muscle surgically ' Frequently misspelt, as by Linnaeus in his later years, Yunx. ' The peculiarity was known to Aristotle, and possibly led to the cruel use of the bird as a love-charm, to which several classical writers refer, as Pindar (Pyth. iv. 214; Nem. iv. 35), Theocritus (iv. 17. 30) and Xenophon (Memorabilia, iii. tr. 17, 18). In one part at least of China a name, Shay ling, signifying " Snake's neck," is given to it (Ibis, 1875, p. 125).may be practised. In the spasmodic forms, anti-neurotic treatment is recommended, the use of the bromides, valerianates and belladonna, and hydrobromide of hyoscine injected into the muscles has been found of value. T. Grainger Stewart re-commends in persistent tic the trial of continuous and regular movements in the affected group of muscles with a view to replacing the abnormal movements by normal ones. In severe cases it may be necessary to cut down on and stretch or excise the spinal accessory nerve. In rheumatic torticollis the spasm is usually overcome by the application of hot compresses and appropriate anti-rheumatic treatment.
End of Article: WRYNECK (Ger. Wendehals, Dutch draaihalzen, Fr. torcol)
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