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Cactus Wren, Matraca Grande
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Troglodytidae

Physical Characteristics

About 7-8 3/4 inches (18-22 cm) long. This is a very large brownish wren with very heavy spotting that gathers into a cluster on the upper breast. There is a white stripe over the eye and white spots on the outer tail. The beak is dark while the legs and feet are tan colored (Peterson, 1990). The wings are short and rounded (Leahy, 1982).


Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus inhabits deserts with cholla cactus or yucca, mesquite, or other arid scrub bushes; it also may be found trees in suburban arid locations (American Ornithologists' Union, 1983).


This species is a resident from the southwestern United States south to Central Mexico (Peterson, 1990).


The Cactus Wren is an active feeder who primarily eats insects and other invertebrates. Small lizards and fruit in colder seasons are also consumed (Leahy, 1982).


The nest is a large loose dome in cacti, trees, or shrubs that is lined with feathers, hair, plant fibers, down, or other soft materials (Leahy, 1982). The female lays eggs that are white to brown in color; they may be plain to heavily marbled with red-brown speckles (Leahy, 1982).


C. brunneicapillus is often referred to as bubbly with rather long and chaotic songs (Leahy, 1982). The songs are composed of one pitch in a monotonous tone of chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh, etc. Or chug-chug-chug-chug,etc., gaining in rapidity (Peterson, 1990).

Literature Cited

American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Check-list of North American birds, 6th ed. Allen Press, Lawrence, 877 pp.

Fisher, J. and R.T. Peterson. 1977. World of birds. Crescent Books, New York, 191 pp.

Leahy, C. 1982. The birdwatcher's companion: an encyclopedic handbook of North American birdlife. Hill and Wang, New York, 917 pp.

Peterson, R.T. 1990. A field guide to western birds. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 432 pp.

Mary Kirschenbaum, July 1996.


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