Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Tim Avery
Photo Copyright Tim Avery

The rock wren, Salpinctes obsoletus, is a bird of arid and semiarid habitats that may be found at elevations as high as 10,000 feet. It breeds in areas with talus slopes, scrublands, or dry washes. Its breeding range extends from southwestern Canada to central Mexico, and eastward to the Great Plains. Individuals summer in the southern and western portions of the breeding range. Rock wrens are common summer residents in northern Utah, where they may be found in rocky areas from desert lowlands to high mountain peaks. It may occasionally be seen at elevations below 5,000 feet in Washington and Kane counties in southern Utah.

Pairs construct a nest of plant materials in rock crevices and then pave the entrance with small rocks and stones. The rock wren feeds primarily on the ground, but will occasionally take food items directly off plants. Its diet probably consists of insects, spiders, and earthworms. A monogamous pair bond is formed, and the clutch of five to six eggs are incubated. The rock wren's song is comprised a large variety of "trills," and territorial males countersing with their male neighbors.


  • 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.

  • Behle, W. H., Sorensen, E. D. and C. M. White. 1985. Utah birds: a revised checklist. Utah Museum of Natural History, Occasional Publication No. 4. Salt Lake City, UT.

  • National Geographic Society. 1996. Field guide to the birds of North America, 2nd edition. The National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C.