Bird GuideWrensRock Wren

At a Glance

Arid rocky canyons and seemingly barren piles of boulders are home to this active little bird, the palest of our wrens. Birders who explore such places may spot the Rock Wren bouncing up and down on its short legs, as if on springs, while it gives a metallic callnote that echoes among the rocks. The nest of this wren can sometimes be located by its curious 'front porch,' a paving of small pebbles on the ground in front of the nest entrance.
Perching Birds, Wrens
Low Concern
Arroyos and Canyons, Desert and Arid Habitats, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, High Mountains, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
California, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Flitter

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Strongly migratory, departing from northern part of range for the winter. Strays sometimes wander east in fall, and have even reached the Atlantic Coast.


5-6 1/2" (13-17 cm). Overall pale look; fine streaks on chest not always apparent. As it flies away, short tail shows rusty at base, buff outer corners.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Brown, Gray, White
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Rounded, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A dry trill; a rhythmic series of musical notes; chewee, chewee, chewee, chewee.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Trill, Whistle


Rocky slopes, canyons. Breeds in a variety of rocky places. Found at elevations from low canyons to high in mountains, wherever surroundings are very open and arid, but scarce in hot desert regions in summer. Winters in rocky places at low elevations; sometimes on rock levees or on stone riprap below dams, especially when it wanders east. In the absence of rocks it may establish winter territory around stacks of hay bales, pieces of farm equipment, or other landmarks.



5-6, sometimes 4-8. White, lightly dotted with reddish brown. Incubation is probably by female, incubation period not well known.


Both parents feed nestlings. Age at which young leave the nest is not well known.

Feeding Behavior

Forages on the ground in dry places, and on steep dirt banks and rocky cliffs with many cracks and openings. Uses long bill to probe in crevices among rocks. Sometimes forages among tangles of low vegetation, or low on trunks of trees.


Mostly insects and spiders. Diet is not well known. Probably feeds mostly on insects, including beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and many others, also spiders and probably other arthropods.


Nesting behavior is not well known. Male sings to defend nesting territory. Nest site is usually in crevice among boulders, in hole in dirt bank, under a rock ledge, in crevice in stone building, or similarly sheltered site; rarely in low tree cavity. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is cup of grass, weeds, bark strips, twigs, rootlets, lined with finer materials such as animal hair, spiderwebs, feathers. Often marked by "paving" of small stones, sometimes with bones and other debris, laid out on ground in front of the entrance to the cranny where the nest is located.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Widespread and common, numbers probably stable. Most of nesting habitat is little affected by human activities.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Rock Wren. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Rock Wren

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.