At first glance cactus wrens might look like ordinary birds. The scientific name, Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus, means "curved beak" and "brown cap" which probably doesn't stir up much excitement. But, the cactus wren is the state bird of Arizona, so chances are they have some remarkable or endearing qualities. I offer these five attributes of cactus wrens:
While not overly showy, cactus wrens are aesthetically pleasing in appearance. The most distinctive features are the white eye stripe and spotted breast.
With their perky personalities, cactus wrens are among the easiest birds to see and hear in southwest deserts. Larger and less shy than other wrens, they're simple to find and photograph.
The cactus wren's vocalization is a harsh non-melodic chug-chug-chug that sounds more like a car engine trying to turn over than a bird singing. This is a sound often associated with southwest deserts that some people find charming. Here's a sound clip from Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology of the cactus wren.
Cactus wrens are prolific nest builders and make many spherical football-sized structures year-round. The nests are primarily made of grasses and are often built among the spiny branches of chain fruit cholla cacti. Most of the nests are dummies used for roosting. The nests chosen for breeding are lined with soft feathers.
Cactus wrens are fun to watch. With curious natures, they investigate everything. They noisily forage on the ground for insects, looking under leaves and turning things over.
The above picture is of a young cactus wren on my patio in the summertime. All of the other pictures were taken recently at Sabino Canyon. Click on any picture to enlarge.
Also, check out a rare Chestnut-sided warbler that Kathiesbirds of Sycamore Canyon recently found at Sabino Canyon.
This post is included at I and the Bird #93 at Vickie Henderson Art, thank you Vickie!