Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

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(Fig. 01)
Picture Notes: While hiking the First Creek Trail that crosses the flat, desert, Cottonwood Valley (Fig. 02) within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, we spotted several of these wrens hovering around a grouping of cholla cacti. As we approached the area, most of them scattered to other bushes and cacti. Luckily, I was able to catch the picture in (Fig. 01) before he fled. Click here to read more about this area … First Creek Trail & Falls Hike.
(Fig. 02)
Description:  At 7-9 inches long, the Cactus Wren is the largest wren in the United States. It is a permanent resident of arid and semi-arid desert regions of the southwestern United States, ranging from southern California, Nevada, and Utah, and central New Mexico and Texas, southward to central Mexico. The most common area to find the around Las Vegas is the Cottonwood Valley throughout the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I have heard that most Cactus Wrens seem to migrate out of our area during winter, but a few stay all year.

It is characterized by a long, slightly decurved bill, dark brown crown with a distinctive white stripe over the eye, white throat, gray-brown back streaked with white and black, and white to buff belly and sides, densely spotted at the breast. Its barred wings and tail, and spotted tail feathers make it easy to identify.
It is often found around yucca, mesquite, yet seems to prefer cholla cactus, where its nests are protected by the prickly cactus spines of a cholla or leaves of a yucca. Cactus Wrens are interesting in that they use nests all year for shelter, not just for rearing young. They build covered nests in cholla cactus. one would think that the spines would be a problem, but I guess it is more of a problem for nest predators than it is for the birds. The cactus wren primarily eats insects, including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and wasps. Occasionally, it will take seeds, fruits, small reptiles and frogs.