Cactus WrenCampylorhynchus brunneicapillus
7-8 1/4" (18-21 cm). A starling-sized wren with spotted underparts, white eyebrows, rusty crown, and white spots on outer tail feathers.
Rapid, mechanical chug-chug-chug-chug-chug.
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Desert thickets and cacti.
Resident from southern California, southern Nevada, Utah, and western Texas southward.
Cactus Wrens forage for food very methodically, searching under leaves and other ground litter. It is easy to spot an area inhabited by Cactus Wrens because, like other members of the family, they build many "dummy" nests, which are never used for breeding but serve as roosting places. These nests are usually so well guarded by sharp spines that it is difficult to understand how the birds can use them without being impaled. They are late sleepers and an early bird-watcher may surprise them still dozing in the snug nest. Although their grating song is hardly musical, it is a most evocative sound for those who love the desert.
4 or 5 buff eggs, heavily speckled with brown. The nest, a mass of fine grass and straw with a side entrance, is lined with feathers and hair and placed in the top of a thorny desert shrub or spiny cactus.