Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Nature Watch: Rock Wren


Last updated 11/4/2021 at 9:26am

Hiking in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park can always be an adventure for the observant person, and there's a tiny bird to look for that can add to your adventure. Bouncing around on boulders with lots of energy, hikers are likely to spot rock wrens, a local native common to the arid deserts of the Southwest.

Your first clue they are around might be their song which is a series of high-pitched singular notes repeated four times. Then you may spot them perched on a rock or bouncing around from rock to rock as they stay just ahead of you or while searching for insects, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, and beetles that are their primary food source. They feed by foraging on the ground or around rocks where they probe cracks for food.

The rock wren is not a large bird, generally about five inches in length. Adults are a pale grayish brown in color with white and black speckles on the back and lighter breast and underparts. A white stripe above the eye and a darker stripe extending back from the beak through the eye is also an identifying characteristic of this little bird. Both males and females have the same coloration.

While the rock wren is found throughout the county, it is most numerous in the desert, especially around rocky slopes, and boulder fields. A hike up Palm Canyon or near the Sheep Canyon Campground is a common place to encounter the rock wren.

This wren typically nest are constructed under rocks on in narrow crevices. They have even been known to use rodent burrows for nesting. Normal clutch size of five to six slightly glossy white eggs that have delicate reddish brown to cinnamon-colored spots.

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