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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Rock Wren -- Salpinctes obsoletus

RANGE: Breeds from south-central British Columbia and southern Alberta to the western Dakotas south (east of the coast ranges in Washington, Oregon and northern California) to Baja California and Central America, and east to western Nebraska and central and southern Texas. Winters from northern California, southern Nevada, and southern Utah to north-central Texas south through the southern portions of the breeding range, wandering to lower elevations.

STATUS: Fairly common.

HABITAT: Primarily inhabits arid and semiarid environments, preferring open, rocky areas such as rock outcrops, canyons, fractured cliff faces, talus slopes, and dry earth banks. May be found up to 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains and shows no preference for areas with water throughout its range.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Rough, rocky surfaces with crevices for foraging and cover.

NEST: Typically locates nest on slopes of loose rocks and boulders, in crevices of canyon walls, or sometimes in rodent cavities in banks or in tree holes. Builds a well hidden nest, often with a small runway of stones, sometimes 8 to 10 inches long, leading to the nest.

FOOD: Forages almost exclusively in open or relatively unvegetated sites. Gleans insects and spiders from boulders, rocks, barren ground, and crevices.

REFERENCES: Bent 1948, Johnsgard 1979, Verner and Boss 1980, Webster in Farrand 1983b.

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