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Description of the Cactus Wren


The Cactus Wren is the largest North American wren, with white-streaked, brown upperparts, boldly spotted underparts, a long, white eyeline, and a large bill.  Length: 8 in.  Wingspan: 11 in.

cactus wren


cactus wren aw
Photograph © Alan Wilson.


Cactus Wren on cactus gl
Photograph © Glenn Bartley.


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Similar to adults.


Deserts, mesquite brushlands, and other areas where cactus and thorny shrubs are present.


Primarily insects, with some fruits and seeds.


Cactus Wrens forage on the ground or in low vegetation, looking under leaves or rocks and exploring crevices.


Cactus Wrens are found in the southwestern U.S. and in Mexico. The U.S. population has declined in recent years.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Cactus Wren.

Fun Facts

The Cactus Wren is the northernmost relative of a group of tropical wrens, and as such it is quite different in appearance from other North American wrens.

Cactus Wrens sometimes sleep in their old nests at night.


The song of the Cactus Wren is a rapid series of harsh "krr krr krr krr krr krr" notes.


The nest is a mass of weeds, twigs, and grass, lined with feathers or hair, and is usually placed in a cactus or thorny shrub.

Number: Usually lay 3-4.
Color: White or pinkish and spotted with brown.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 16 days and leave the nest in another 19-23 days but continue to associate with the adults for some time.