Catherpes Mexicanus – Canyon Wren

Catherpes mexicanus - Canyon wren in the United States

Known as the canyon wren, Catherpes mexicanus,  is a small songbird found in North America that belongs to the wren family, the Troglodytidae. It is found in arid, rocky cliffs, outcrops, and canyons throughout its range and is a resident species throughout its range. It is a small bird that is difficult to see in its rocky habitat; however, its distinctive, loud song can be heard throughout the canyons by those who are listening. It is the only species in the genus Catherpes, and it is currently classified as a monotypic taxon.

Quick Overview: Catherpes Mexicanus – Canyon Wren
Body size: Around 4-6 in (10-15 cm) and a weight of 14 g (.5 oz).
Main colors: Brown, Gray, White, Black, Chestnut
Range: Southcentral United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Canyon Wren Description

The coloration of the Canyon Wren is rusty brown on the upperparts, with a grey head and back. Description of Canyon Wren White spotting on the dorsal can be found in various degrees of concentration. It has a white appearance on the lower face, throat, and upper breasts. Black and white speckling can be found on the underparts of the bird’s chestnut back. The tail is a brownish color with black barring on the sides and back of the tail. The bill is long and slender, and the head appears to be flattened out.

Catherpes mexicanus - Canyon wren in the United States
Catherpes Mexicanus – Canyon Wren. Source: Wikipedia


These birds have a length of 4-6 in (10-15 cm) and a weight of 14 g (.5 oz). Their wings could range from 7-8 in (18-20 cm).


Diet consists of rocky surface spiders and insects. The Canyon Wren occasionally catches flies. Long bill and flattened cranium allow it to forage in rock crevices. So it can get into small crevices.


The Canyon Wren prefers arid areas with cliffs, steep canyons, rocky outcrops, and boulder piles. Foraging sites and nesting sites are found in rock crevices. Stream-carrying canyons with shaded areas are preferred.


The Canyon Wren is a sedentary species, though it may make brief movements up and down mountainsides in search of food. A number of birds withdraw from high elevations as well as the eastern and northern portions of their ranges during the winter months.

Catherpes mexicanus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Troglodytidae
  • Genus: Catherpes
  • Species: Catherpes mexicanus


There are three related subspecies in these species namely: C. m. mexicanus occurring in the central and southern portions of the Mexican Plateau, C. m. albifrons occurring in the northern portion of the Mexican Plateau, into west-central through western Texas, C. m. conspersus occurring in the remaining portion of the range in the U.S. and Canada

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Canyon wren in the USA

The Canyon wren can be found from southern British Columbia all the way across the southcentral United States and down into Mexico, where it breeds.

The Canyon wren can be found in the following states in the United States – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Catherpes Mexicanus – Canyon Wren

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