CLIPBOARD : Breeding Bird: ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus)


Description: The small, chunky rock wren has a slightly upturned bill. It is grayish-brown above with a streaked head and wings with light eyebrow markings slightly above dark eyes. Its vanilla breast and belly is marked with tan streaks. The black-banded tail shows orange-tipped outer feathers and a cinnamon rump when cocked. Length: 5 1/2 inches.

Habitat: Arid and semiarid canyons, dry washes and scrubland.

Diet: Not verified. Likely to be insects, earthworms and spiders.


Displays: Neighboring territorial males countersing using similar song types; each male has a repertoire of more than 100 songs. Breeding displays are unknown.

Nest: Built in a hole, crevice or under rocks, entrance is paved with fine stone chips. Nest is constructed of grass, rootlets and other materials, then lined with fine grasses.

Eggs: Light pink with deep rusty splotches, sometimes wreathed. Slightly under an inch long.

Call: Dry, trilling tik-keer ; song is a series of buzzes and trills.

Notes: Rock wren can be located by following a path of pebbles or rock chips to its nest.

Map indicates 5-kilometer-square areas where breeding activity has been confirmed.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; “The Birder’s Handbook,” Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); “Field Guide to the Birds of North America,” National Geographic Society (1987); “Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution,” Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).