News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

The canyon wren [Catherpes mexicanus] is a small wren found in arid, rocky habitats from southern British Columbia throughout the western United States and Mexico.

The canyon wren is visually inconspicuous but easily detected during the breeding season by its loud, distinctive song, often heard throughout canyonlands of western North America. Few terrestrial birds are as restricted to rocky cliffs or outcrops as this one. It inhabits the same territories year-round, commonly nesting in sheltered rock crevices, using its long, decurved bill and flattened head to probe for spiders and insects in rock crevices.

The canyon wren is not known to drink water. It probably gets all the water it needs from its insect prey. It has been seen foraging along the sides of desert springs — but not drinking.

Listen for their haunting yet melodious songs in echoing river canyons and desert rock formations. It may be the only bird whose song consists of descending notes.

Incubation is by female, 12-18 days. Male may feed female during incubation and both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest at about 15 days and remain with parents for several weeks or more.

A group of wrens has many collective nouns including a “chime,” “flight,” “flock” and “herd” of wrens. For more canyon wren photos visit


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