The cactus wren is the largest wren in the US, being about 9 inches long. Both sexes have a dull rust colored head and a back which is streaked with color. They have a very spotted breast and tan colored sides and belly. Their wings are black and white barred. They have a very long slightly curved bill with a dark eyeline and white throat and dark colored legs and feet.
They like the desert and an arid climate with taller cactus such as the cholla or saguero. Any area with thorn plants that will support their nests can be used to build them. Primarily they will range from new Mexico to Texas to Arizona and all points southwest.
The female choose a nest site which is usually a Cholla. They may also nest in other cacti as well as thorn trees such as mesquite or ironwood. The male and female will build the nest together, which is a very bulky and large round structure build of paper, cloth grass and plants.. nearly anything found on the roadside is the nest for a wren.
They build a long narrow passageway into the large chamber inside. This will protect the nest, along with teh thorns woven into it, from predators. Very often the nests are invaded by snakes in New Mexico and Arizona.
The nest is usually lined with feathers. The wren female will incubate it while the male will build a new nest getting ready for their second clutch of eggs. The family has time in the breeding season for two or sometimes three clutches of eggs. The wrens will hatch in less than three weeks, and fledge in about 20 days. It does remain dependent on its parents for another month after leaving the nest.
Wrens eat a diet of insects, which can include ants, beetles grasshoppers and wasps. Once in a while it will take in seeds and fuilts as well. Wrens forage by moving things such as rocks and roots to find things on the ground beneath them.
Find out more about the Cactus Wren over at Wikipedia »