Rock Wren

Salpinctes obsoletus

A pale gray bird of rocky areas, the Rock Wren is found throughout arid western North America.

Interesting Information

  • The male Rock Wren is a truly remarkable singer and can have a large song repertoire of 100 or more song types, many of which seem to be learned from neighbors.

  • The Rock Wren usually builds a pavement or walkway of small, flat stones or pebbles that leads to the nest cavity. The nest is usually located in a rock crevice out of sight, but the pavement may give away the nest’s location. The function of this pavement is unknown.

  • The Rock Wren is not known to drink water, but instead gets all it needs from its food. Even five birds kept in captivity did not drink water when it was available.

  • A group of wrens has many collective nouns, including a "chime", "flight", "flock", and "herd" of wrens.


Adult Description

  • Small songbird.

  • Pale gray back.

  • Faintly striped throat.

  • Long, barred tail.

  • Long, thin bill.

  • Length Range: 13-15 cm (5-6 in)

  • Weight: 17 g (0.6 oz)

  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)

Sex Differences

Sexes Similar


Juvenile similar to adult, but duller, darker, and with little or no streaking on underparts.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Arid or semiarid areas with exposed rock; desert to alpine habitats.


Gleans prey from rocks, removes prey from spider webs; repeatedly hops vertically from ground to capture flying insects.


Insects and other arthropods.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Troglodytidae
Genus: Salpinctes
Species: Salpinctes obsoletus

Similar Species

Canyon Wren is much darker, with a white throat, a rufous-and-black tail, and a different voice.

Bird Sound

Song a series of repeated buzzy or musical phrases. Call a loud, dry trill, or a clear "tick-ear."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution