(State Bird of Arizona)
The cactus wren is about eight inches (21 cm) long. It has a white belly with brown spots, and speckled brown, black and white feathers on its back, wings and head. It has black feathers on its throat and a long stripe of white feathers that look like eyebrows. It has long legs and a long pointed bill.
The cactus wren can be found in southern California, southern Nevada, Utah, western Texas, and northern Mexico.
The cactus wren lives in desert thickets and areas with large cactus like the cholla. It needs areas with cactus or thorny plants or bushes strong enough to hold its large nests.
The cactus wren forages for food on the ground. It uses its long bill to turn over things on the ground. It eats ants, beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, fruits and seeds. Sometimes it will eat small frogs and lizards. It is adapted for life in the desert and gets most of the water it needs to survive from the food it eats.
Life CycleCactus wrens mate from late February to March. Cactus wrens can have as many as three broods every season. Females chose a nesting place in a large cactus or thick shrub, tree or thicket. Males help build the nests. The nest is made with grass and straw and lined with feathers. The nest is large and shaped like a football. It has a side entrance that helps protect the fledglings from predators.
The female lays between three to six eggs. The eggs take a little more than two weeks to hatch. The young wrens leave the nest after about three weeks but will depend on their parents for food for another month.
Cactus wrens build two nests, one for their young and one for roosting.