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What is a Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

What is a Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren Overview

The Cactus Wren is the largest of the Wren family of birds and is found sitting atop of cacti in the southwest United States and Mexico.

Unlike a lot of birds, you can find Cactus Wren sitting and singing out in the open as well as seeing their nests in plain view instead of hidden away.

Built for desert living, the Cactus Wren gets a majority of its water from the foods it eats much like other desert-dwelling animals including the Kangaroo Rat and Desert Woodrat.

What is a Cactus Wren


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Genus: Campylorhynchus
  • Species: C. brunneicapillus

Size and Body Description

The Cactus Wren is the largest bird of the wren family and is mainly brown with white specks and the occasional red heugh.

Their chest is white with brown or black specks alongside the belly which follows the same color pattern.

The Cactus Wren also has a long white eye stripe that runs from it’s beak over or through the eye  and ends at it’s upper back.


Being the largest Wren, the Cactus Wren is around 7 to 9 inches (18 to 23 cm) long and weighs around 30 to 50 grams.


The Cactus Wren feeds mostly on insects, seeds and any fruits that may be grown in the area.

Insects the Cactus Wren may eat include ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and some wasps but not the Tarantula Hawk which is found in their habitat.

What is a Cactus Wren

Only 14 days old the Cactus Wren chicks have nearly outgrown their home.


Cactus Wren’s mate for life with the mating season occurring around late February to March. During this time, the male will build multiple nests in the surrounding area while the female incubates the first batch of eggs.

A mating pair can produce up to three different sets of eggs during the mating season. You can expect to see a Cactus Wren’s nest in a variety of plants like in cacti, desert trees, or yucca with the jumping cholla cactus being their preferred plant to build on.

Where Found

The Cactus Wren is found exclusively in the southwest United States and parts of Mexico.

It’s habitat includes California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and northern and central Mexico. 

How Long do Cactus Wren’s Live

Cactus Wren’s in the wild will live around 7 to 10 years.


As of writing this, the Cactus Wren isn’t an endangered species and it does not have any major protections.

References Used

  • transcription of the above sign found at the Valley of Fire Visitor Center.

What is a Cactus Wren