The US state of Arizona is located in the southwestern United States. Southern Arizona is known for its desert climate. Arizona has designated various state symbols, including a state bird. The cactus wren is the official state bird of Arizona. Scientifically named Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus, the cactus wren was designated as Arizona's official bird in 1931.
The cactus wren is the largest wren species in the United States, with a length of between 7.1 and 7.5 inches and a weight of about 1.18 oz. The bird has a brown coat with white speckles and eyebrows that stretch from the bill to the nape of the neck. The chin and neck are white with black markings. Males and female have similar physical features, but young cactus wrens can be distinguished by pale red-brown eyes, whereas adults have deep red-brown eyes. The cactus wren shares much of its physical traits with other wrens but is distinguished by a white tail band that extends during flight.
Distribution and Habitat
The cactus wren spends much of its life in arid and semi-arid regions of the southwestern United States and central Mexico. In particular, large populations of the species exist in the Chihuahuan, Mojave, and Sonoran deserts. The bird dwells close to cactus plants, which provide shelter and food in the harsh conditions. The cactus wren does not migrate but creates permanent territories that are defended vigorously from predators and other birds.
Cactus wrens are normally found near saguaro, mesquite, and yucca plants. Male and female wrens live together throughout their lives by establishing a territory and aggressively protecting it from other birds. The wrens create nests by boring holes in the saguaro cactus and using the plant's spines as protective shields. The birds are known to destroy the nests and eggs of other birds within their territory in order to eliminate competition for food. They feed on insects, fruits, and seeds.
The population of the cactus wren remains stable in its native range, although its numbers are declining in southern California and Texas. The species is classified as of least concern (LC) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species has an estimated population of about seven million birds, more than half of which are in Mexico. Between 1966 and 2015, the population of the cactus wren declined by 55%, although the population in the US is dropping at a higher rate than in Mexican. The population in Arizona is considered stable, but declining due to urbanization and habitat loss.