Arizona State Bird

Coues' Cactus Wren

State Symbol: Arizona State Bird: Coues' Cactus Wren

(Heleodytes brunneicapillus couesi )

Adopted on March 16, 1931.

The Coues' Cactus Wren, (Campylorpynchus brunncicapillum,) was officially designated the Arizona State Bird by legislative action on March 16, 1931 or was designated as the State bird of Arizona by an act of the State legislature approved on March 16, 1931.  Arizona was one of seven states that adopted official birds in 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

Arizona State Bird: Coues' Cactus Wren

State Symbol: Arizona State Bird: Cactus Wren

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 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.

The 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.

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 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).

Life Cycle

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.

The Arizona Revised Statutes

The law designating the Coues' cactus wren as the official Arizona state bird is Section 41-854 (State bird) of the Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 41 (State Government) Chapter 4.1 (HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY AND STATE EMBLEMS); Article 5 (State Emblems) Section 41-854

Title 41 - State Government.
Article 5 - State Emblems.
41-854. State bird
41-854. The cactus wren, otherwise known as Coues' cactus wren or heleodytes brunneicapillus couesi (Sharpe) shall be the state bird.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Cactus Wren

Kingdom: Animalia (animal)
Phylum: Chordata (chordates)
Class: Aves (birds)
Order: Passeriformes (perching birds)
Family: Troglodytidae (wrens)
Genus: Campylorhynchus
Species: C. brunneicapillus (brown-capped curved bill)
    Subspecies: Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus couesi Sharpe, 1881 - San Diego cactus wren
Binomial name: Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus Lafresnaye, 1835
Taxonomic Serial Number: 178587


Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.