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State Symbols: State Birds

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Arizona State Bird

Coues' Cactus WrenState Symbol: Arizona State Bird: Coues' Cactus Wren

(Heleodytes brunneicapillus couesi )

Adopted on March 16, 1931.

The Cactus Wren, (Campylorpynchus brunncicapillum,) was adopted as the official state bird of Arizona on March 16, 1931. It remained Arizona's only official wildlife representative until 1986 when Arizona designated the Ringtail as its official state mammal The ringtail is a small fox-like animal about two and one-half feet long and is a shy, nocturnal creature

The Cactus Wren lives 2-4 years and is protected by federal law, as are all songbirds in Arizona. It is illegal to hunt or possess live specimens. The Cactus Wren was officially designated the Arizona State Bird by legislative action on March 16, 1931.The Cactus Wren is the largest wren in Arizona, measuring 7 to 8 inches in length. It builds many nests but lives in only one. The rest are decoys. Its song is a rather raucous and unmusical cha-cha-cha which sounds like a car engine trying to turn over.

Arizona State Bird: Coues' Cactus Wren

State Symbol: Arizona State Bird: Cactus WrenThe Cactus Wren's back is brown with white spots and its under-parts, including the throat, are lighter colored with black spots. The bill is as long as its head and curves down slightly. Its wing feathers have white bars and its tail has black bars. A distinctive white line appears over each eye. The Cactus Wren resides at lower elevations in the southern and western part of the state below the Mogollon Rim. It can also be found in parts of Utah, Texas, New Mexico, California, and Mexico.

Cactus wrens primarily eat insects (including ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and wasps) and occasional seeds and fruits. Almost all water is obtained from its food (a true bird of the desert, the cactus wren rarely drinks free standing water, even when available).

A bird of arid regions, the cactus wren is often found around yucca, mesquite or saguaro. Cactus wrens nest in cactus plants; sometimes in a hole in a saguaro, or a spot where prickly cactus spines provide protection for the nest. It builds many nests but lives in only one. The rest are decoys. Male and female cactus wrens mate for life and are similar in appearance. The female Cactus Wren lays 3-4 eggs which are then incubated for about 16 days. Only the females are involved with the incubation. The young weigh approximately 3-4 grams at hatching. About 65-70% of all nesting attempts are successful. The young leave the nest after approximately three weeks. Most pairs raise 2-3 families between late March and July.

Characteristics of the Cactus Wren

  • Size: 18-22 cm (7-9 in)
  • Weight: 32-47 g (1.13-1.66 ounces)
  • Very large wren.
  • Upper-parts brownish with scattered white streaks.
  • Long white eye-stripe.
  • Wings barred.
  • Long, brown tail barred with black.
  • White outer tail feathers barred with black.
  • Under-parts white to cinnamon buff, heavily streaked or spotted with black, heaviest on chest.
  • Dark bill long and thin with silvery base to lower mandible.

The Arizona Revised Statutes

Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 41, Chapter 4.1, Article 5, Section 41-854.

Title 41 - State Government.
Chapter 4.1 - HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY AND STATE EMBLEMS.
Article 5 - State Emblems.

41-854. State bird The cactus wren, otherwise known as Coues' cactus wren or heleodytes brunneicapillus couesi (Sharpe) shall be the state bird.

Taxonomic Hierarchy of the Cactus Wren

Kingdom Animalia -- animals
Phylum Chordata -- chordates
Subphylum Vertebrata -- vertebrates
Class Aves -- birds
Order Passeriformes -- perching birds
Family Certhiidae -- creepers
Genus Campylorhynchus Spix, 1824 -- cactus wrens
Species Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus (Lafresnaye, 1835)
-- cactus wren, Cactus Wren
Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus couesi Sharpe, 1881 – San Diego cactus wren
Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:  Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.
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