Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

Cactus Wren

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Troglodytidae | [latin] Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus | [UK] Cactus Wren | [FR] Troglodyte des cactus | [DE] Kaktus-Zaunkonig | [ES] Matraca del desierto | [NL] Cactuswinterkoning


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus NA, MA sw USA, Mexico
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus affinis
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus anthonyi
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus brunneicapillus
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus bryanti
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus guttatus
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus sandiegensis
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus seri

Physical charateristics

A very large wren of arid country. Distinguished from other United States wrens by its much larger size and heavy spotting, which in adults gathers into a cluster on the upper breast. White stripe over eye and white spots in outer tail.

Listen to the sound of Cactus Wren

[audio: Wren.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 32 cm wingspan max.: 37 cm
size min.: 18 cm size max.: 22 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 16 days
fledging min.: 19 days fledging max.: 22 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 6  


North America, Middle America : Southwest USA, Mexico


Cactus, yucca, mesquite; arid brush, deserts.
Lives in a variety of low, dry habitats. Most numerous in desert, in areas with thorny shrubs and cactus, especially where cholla cactus is common; also found in mesquite brush, in towns, and locally in coastal chaparral where cactus grows.


May mate for life, pairs remaining together all year. Members of pair have greeting display, perching upright with wings and tail partly spread, giving harsh calls. Male may build extra “dummy” nests while female is incubating. Adults sometimes puncture e
ggs of other birds nesting nearby.
Nest: Site is in cactus (especially cholla), tree yucca, or thorny low tree; usually less than 10′ above the ground. Sometimes nests in hole in building or in cavi
ty in giant cactus. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky mass of weeds, grass, twigs, lined with feathers, animal hair, plant down. Nest shaped like horizontal football; entrance at one end, narrow passage leading to nest chamber.
Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-5. Whitish to pale pink, spotted with brown. Incubation is by female only, about 16 days.
Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 19-23 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects, some fruits and seeds.
Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including beetles, ants, wasps, true bugs, grasshoppers, and many others. Also eats spiders, occasionally small lizards. Eats more plant material than other wrens (up to 20 percent), including berries, cactus fruits, s
eeds, some nectar.
Behavior: Forages on ground and in low trees, probing in bark and among leaf litter on ground. Adaptable and curious, will explore possible new food sources, learning to probe in cones of planted pines and


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Cactus Wren status Least Concern


Southwestern United States to central Mexico.
b Migration: Permanent resident.

Distribution map

Cactus Wren distribution range map

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