Species Name: Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)
Length: 8.5 inches
Description: The largest of the wrens. Streaked brown above, pale whitish yellow
to tan below. Buffy on flanks. Spotted breast, heaviest on adults sometimes
forming solid black bib. Long brown tail barred with black; outer tail feathers
marked with black and white. White stripe over eye. Bill longish and strongly
Range: A bird of the desert southwest, occurring in the southwestern
half of Texas, the southern half of New Mexico, the southern 2/3rds of Arizona,
southern California, extending into parts of Nevada and Utah, and south through
much of Mexico.
Behavior: A loud and active bird in desert areas, with a harsh, repetitive
guttural call unlike other birds. Makes football-shaped nest in cholla cactus,
saguaro, palo verde, or yucca, preferring security of cactus spines to protect
nest. Make many nests in single territory, using some for roosting.
Pair for life; maintain territory year round and do not migrate.
Actively searches out insects and edible seeds throughout territory, using
long bill for probing much like thrashers. Does not have the habit of uplifted tail as
other wrens do.
Related or Similar Species: Largest and most distinct of the US
wrens: House, Winter, Carolina, Bewick's, Marsh, Sedge, Canyon, and Rock Wren.
Identification: Markings unmistakable. In size and shape more
like a thrasher than the other wrens.
Advice on Finding and Photographing: Listen for distinctive calls in
proper habitat in southwestern US, especially around cholla cactus and small
bushes and mesquites. Inquisitive and can often be attracted by making noise.
Easily attracted to meal worms.
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Richard Ditch been looking at birds and taking
their photographs since the early 1970's, when he caught the "birding bug" from
a friend at work. He was very active as a birder when he lived in New Jersey (1970-1994),
maintaining lists of all the birds he saw each year in the state and elsewhere.
Rich was a volunteer and field trip leader at the Owl Haven Nature Center
(part of the New Jersey Audubon Society) and was a member of the Board of Directors
for many years, along with being a frequent contributor to their quarterly magazine
and to Records of New Jersey Birds. After moving to Phoenix, AZ in 1994 as a result
of a job change, he found the birds to be a lot different and went through a rapid
period of learning new species and new forms of species East. Richard is also a
very active Member of our PhotoMigrations community and is a regular contributor
to our forums. Please feel free to
email him and be sure to visit his website located at:
Birds in Nature - Images of Wild Birds.