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Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus


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Rock Wren
credit: Wolfgang Wander/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Troglodytidae, Wrens view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mostly dark gray-brown upperparts (slightly rufous on rump), speckled on crown, back, and rump with tiny black and white spots. Tail is mostly brown and barred, but note the pale buff tips to the outer feathers, appearing as a pale terminal band in flight. Face is speckled gray with a pale supercilium. Throat and chest are grayish white and streaked and underparts are otherwise pale orange-buff. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but speckling on upperparts is less distinct.

Dimensions Length: 5-6 1/2" (13-17 cm)

Habitat Locally common summer visitor (mainly May-Sep) to dry habitats where areas of loose stones, pebbles, and boulders predominate; range of favored habitats include scree slopes, boulder fields above the treeline, and stony desert washes. Winters from southwestern U.S. to Mexico.

Observation Tips Reasonably easy to find in suitable habitats.

Range California, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Western Canada, Northwest, Texas, Plains

Voice Renowned and varied songster. Song is typically a series of trilling whistles, many phrases repeated 2-6 times, but also including a prolonged rattle; calls include a shrill ch'tzee.

Discussion Dumpy-bodied wren that forages among rocks for insects and spiders, often with a bouncing gait. Pairs create pathway of flattened pebbles leading to nest entrance. Sexes are similar.