The cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) was named the Arizona state bird in 1931. Its name means curved beak. It is the largest wren in North America, measuring between 7 and 9 inches long. These birds are commonly found in dry areas below 4,000 feet in elevation, making the lower deserts of Arizona, including both Maricopa County (where Phoenix is located) and Pima County (where Tucson is located) prime areas for the cactus wren. It is not unusual to find them in populated, urban areas.
Characteristics and Habits
The cactus wren is a skittish creature, so it is difficult to get too close. They are also very noisy and territorial; when building their nest they will scream and 'bark' at anyone (including dogs) that may interfere with their project. You will often see them in pairs (they often mate for life) building nests or foraging for insects on the ground. Both parents will feed nestling birds, and the young birds may stay with the parents for some time after they are old enough to leave the nest.
The male and female cactus wrens look alike. Chollas and saguaros — or any cactus that has spines for protection — are their favorite places to nest, and the cactus wrens produce three to six eggs per clutch.