Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Bruce Bonebrake
Photo Copyright Bruce Bonebrake

The cactus wren, Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus, occurs in the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is nonmigratory. In Utah, it is common year-round in the southwestern corner of the state, mainly in Washington County. Its habitats are arid scrublands and deserts. The cactus wren eats mainly insects, but it also consumes small vertebrates, fruits, and seeds.

The nest is a large, domed structure with the entrance on the side, usually four to nine feet above the ground in a cactus, yucca, or small thorny tree or shrub. Two to five eggs are incubated by the female parent alone for 15 to 18 days. The young are tended by both parents and leave the nest after about 21 days, becoming independent about 30 days after leaving the nest. Young of earlier broods sometimes assist in the care of the young of subsequent broods.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American birds. 2nd ed. Academic, San Diego. 347 pp.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.