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Rock Wren Life History


Habitat DesertsArid or semiarid areas with exposed rock; desert to alpine habitats.Back to top


Food InsectsInsects and other arthropods.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Loose cup built with grass, bits of wood, bark, moss, hair, and occasionally fresh plant material in shallow space; lined with rootlets, hair, wool, spider silk. Placed in cavity or crevice in or among rocks, usually with foundation of stone and often with pavement of small stones extending from nest to entrance of nest cavity and sometimes beyond.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:4-8 eggs
Number of Broods:2-3 broods
Egg Length:0.6-0.8 in (1.58-2.03 cm)
Egg Width:0.5-0.6 in (1.37-1.57 cm)
Incubation Period:14-16 days
Nestling Period:14-16 days
Egg Description:White with fine spots of reddish brown.
Condition at Hatching:Helpless, with some down.
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Behavior Ground ForagerGleans prey from rocks, removes prey from spider webs; repeatedly hops vertically from ground to capture flying insects.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernRock Wren is declining throughout its range. Populations declined by 47% between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 3.7 million, with 74% spending at least part of the year in the U.S., and 44% in Mexico. Some may also breed in southwest Canada. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Partners in Flight listed it as a Common Bird in Steep Decline, however, Rock Wren is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


Lowther, Peter E., Donald E. Kroodsma and Greg H. Farley. (2000). Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center (2014b). Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

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