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Canyon Wren

Catherpes mexicanus

Anyone who has heard the Canyon Wren’s song is not likely to forget it. It is like no other song in the bird world. A descending cascade of notes will fill the air, and if the bird is near enough you might hear the little scolding notes that punctuate the finale. Look and listen for these non-migratory birds where you find rocky canyons in western North American from southern British Columbia to deep into Mexico.

As with its cousin the Rock Wren, steep canyon walls are its favorite haunts, though fields of large boulders can accommodate their needs as well. I’ve met these birds in locations where boulders did not dominate the landscape, but to be sure, there were large rocky outcrops not far away. Canyon Wrens have evolved a neck attachment and flattened head that allows them to forage for spiders and tiny insects in narrow rocky crevices that other birds can’t reach.

Canyon Wrens often nest in the same areas as White-Throated Swifts, and the swifts have been witnessed attacking the wrens to drive them away. This would suggest the swifts sense a threat from the wrens, and given the well documented behavior of nest destruction observed in House Wrens, one could conclude that the Canyon Wren might be capable of the same.

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