The cactus wren is endemic to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico. It is the state bird of Arizona, and the largest wren in the United States. Ornithologists generally recognize seven subspecies, with the exact taxonomy under dispute. Populations have declined as the species faces threats related to human activities and habitat loss.
About Cactus wren in brief
The cactus wren is a species of wren endemic to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico. It is the state bird of Arizona, and the largest wren in the United States. Ornithologists generally recognize seven subspecies, with the exact taxonomy under dispute. Populations have declined as the species faces threats related to human activities and habitat loss, although the species remains abundant. The population still numbers in the millions, leading the International Union for Conservation of Nature to consider the cactus wren a species of least concern. Its common name derives from their frequenting desert cactus plants such as the saguaro and cholla, building nests, roosting, and seeking protection from predators among them. Its bulky and globular nests are constructed of plant material and lined with feathers. They do not migrate; instead, they establish and defend the territories around their nests where they live all year-round. The wren family is a group of generally small passerine birds, found – with one exception – only in the New World. Although the c prickly-wren is the largest Wren in U.S., globally the title is shared between the giant wren and the bicolored wren. It was historically considered conspecific with the Yucatan wren and Boucard’s wren, but there are numerous morphological and behavioral differences between the species. A 2007 genetic study by Barker indicated that all three were distinct species.
Study of the evolution of the c desert wren suggests that it evolved in central Mexico about one million years ago and quickly spread to its modern range. The species is well-adapted to its native desert environment and the birds can meet their water needs from their diet which consists chiefly of insects, but also of some plant matter. It has a distinctive white eyebrow that sweeps to the nape of the neck, whereas the underparts are cinnamon-buff colored. The tail, as well as flight feathers, are barred in black and white. Their song is a loud raspy chirrup; akin in the description of some ornithologists to the sound of a car engine that will not start. The birds are monogamous; in each breeding season, the males chiefly build nests, the females incubate eggs, and both parents feed the young. They have learned to coexist with humans effectively, using human materials and structures for nesting, and even learning to take insects from vehicle radiator grilles. The bird is a poor flier and generally forages for food on the ground. It lives in pairs, or as family groups from late spring through winter, from late May through winter. It can be found in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and southern California. It also lives in Arizona and New Mexico in the summer and winter, and in southern California in the winter and early spring. It feeds on insects, plant matter, and other invertebrates.