Cactus Wren

Arizona State Bird


Cactus wren photo © Joe Fuhrman / CritterZone: Animal - Wildlife - Nature Stock Photography (all rights reserved; used by permission).

Cactus Wren

The state bird of Arizona is the cactus wren (Heleodytes brunneicapillus couesi), officially recognized in 1931. The largest North American wren (7-9 inches), cactus wrens are native to the arid south- western United States extending to central Mexico.

Cactus wrens primarily eat insects (including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and wasps) and occasional seeds and fruits. Almost all water is obtained from its food (a true bird of the desert, the cactus wren rarely drinks free standing water, even when available).

A bird of arid regions, the cactus wren is often found around yucca, mesquite or saguaro. Cactus wrens nest in cactus plants; sometimes in a hole in a saguaro, or a spot where prickly cactus spines provide protection for the nest.

Male and female cactus wrens mate for life and are similar in appearance. They protect their established territory (where they live througout the year) and aggressively defend their nests from predators. Cactus wrens also destroy the nests of other bird species, pecking or removing their eggs.

Wild Status

Large-scale development throughout the Southwest has caused declines in cactus wren populations. The cactus wren is not currently listed as endangered or threatened. It is however, like all songbirds, protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.



Cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) photographed at the White Tank Mountains outside of Phoenix, Arizona; photo by Mark Wagner on Wikipedia (use permitted with attribution).

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)


Cactus Wren