Arizona State Bird

Arizona State Bird: Cactus Wren Toxostoma Rufum

Arizona State Bird Description:

  • Size: 7 to 9 inches (18-22 cm)
  • Weight: 1.13 to 1.66 ounces (32-47 g)

The color of both sexes is the same; the upper parts are brownish with scattered white streaks, the belly and breast are tawny-colored and heavily spotted. The crown is rust-colored and there is a long white eye stripe above each eye. The wings and tail are barred black and white and a white tail band is visible in flight.


The Cactus Wren can be found in desert areas with taller cacti (especially cholla), or arid hillsides and valleys with other thorny plants capable of supporting their bulky nests.


Ranges from southern California, southern Nevada, southwest Utah, central New Mexico, and central and southern Texas to central Mexico. Year-round resident in southern, western, and central Arizona in deserts with thorny vegetation.


The Cactus Wren feeds on insects and spiders, some types of fruit and rarely reptiles and amphibians. It often forages for food by overturning moveable objects on the ground with its large curved bill, capturing creatures hiding underneath.


The Cactus Wren's nest is built in a cactus or thorn tree, usually surrounded by thorns. It is a large, conspicuous, spherical structure usually built with dry grasses and annual plants and even strips of discarded paper and cloth. A long, narrow-sided passage into an internal chamber, as well as the thorny substrate, protects this nest from most predators. As with most wren nests, the nest chamber is usually lined with feathers. Both the male and female build the nest.

The clutch will contain 2 to 7 eggs and incubation takes about 16 days.

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Arizona State Bird:

  • The Cactus Wren is the largest wren in the United States.
  • The Cactus Wren is abundant below 4,000 feet in Arizona, but has been found in elevations up to 6,000 feet in New Mexico.
  • The Cactus Wren destroys the nests of other bird species, pecking or removing their eggs.

Are you trying to find the Arizona state bird? Click here to find out how.

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