Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Torcol fourmilier.

1 occurrence

The Wryneck was very common until the nineteenth century and is now an extremely rare breeder in Britain. Its ability to twist its head completely gives it its name in many languages.

According to OED, the first record of the word "wryneck" is found in 1585 and it is already the name of the bird, while the first use of the adjective "wry-neck'd" is made by Shakespeare in 1596 in the Merchant of Venice:

Hear you me Jessica,

Lock up my doors, and when you hear the drum

And the vile squealing of the wry-neck'd fife,

(2 5 28-30)

Shylock mocks the attitude of the fife player looking away from his instrument and producing a "vile squealing", just like the shrill piping of the wryneck in spring.