Cactus Wren | Photo: W. Willoughby/Wikimedia

Cactus Wren

Look For

Our largest wren, the cactus wren is sometimes mistaken for a thrasher. The bold white eyebrow stands out below the dark brown cap. Dark spots below (especially on breast), white streaks above, buffy flanks. Long tail is edged in black and white dashes.

Listen For

Song is a series of harsh, unmusical notes: churr-churr-churr-churr, often speeding up. It sounds like someone trying to start a car. Scold note is clack!


The somewhat similar thrashers, especially the smallish sage thrasher, all have longer tails and plain, unstreaked backs.


Cactus wrens are big, bold, and curious birds. They have been observed picking insects off the front grilles of parked cars.

Find It

A common year-round resident of arid cactus-mesquite brush lands in the Southwest. Also found in scrubby sagebrush habitat and coastal scrub. Found in pairs or family groups foraging on or near the ground.

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