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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Cactus Wren -- Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus

RANGE: Resident from southern California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, and central Arizona to central and southern Texas south to Mexico.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits southwestern deserts, primarily where there are abundant cacti and thorny trees, especially large cholla, mesquite, and paloverde. Also frequents riparian brush and trees in towns of arid regions.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Thorny shrubs or trees for nesting sites.

NEST: Usually constructs a conspicuous nest in cholla cactus, catclaw, or other thorny shrubs or trees, from 3 to 14 feet, but typically 4 to 9 feet, above the ground. Occasionally may nest in orange trees, old woodpecker holes, or in a hollow cornice of a building. Covered roosting nests are built for use throughout the year.

FOOD: Feeds mostly on the ground, but also gleans insects from branches of trees and shrubs. Consumes insects, some spiders, occasionally lizards and tree frogs, cactus fruit, berries, and some seeds.

REFERENCES: Anderson and Anderson 1959, 1973, Phillips et al. 1964, Terres 1980, Terrill in Farrand 1983b.

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