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Wildlife Spotlight: Cactus Wren

PictureCactus Wren

The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks consist of diverse habitats including coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grassland, oak woodland and riparian forest communities, making these wildlands the perfect home for many different species of rare plants and animals.
Native to Southern California and desert-like areas, the cactus wren is a threatened species known for its speckled brown plumage and white “eyebrows” that extend from the bill across their eyes, down to the sides of the neck. Similar in size to a spotted towhee, the cactus wren is the largest wren found in the United States. 

​The small, yet active bird can be seen jumping and hopping through coastal sage scrub habitats, where they often perch on cacti and other native shrubs, making their presence known. Unlike other wrens who cock their tails over their back, the cactus wren flash their white tail tips by fanning their tail feathers.
When it comes to their home, cactus wren are picky. They prefer to construct their nests in areas with thorny shrubs, prickly pear cactus and cholla cactus – all of which provide protection from predators. Cactus wren can often be found foraging in pairs or groups on the ground and in low trees, looking for small insects, fruits and seeds.
Next time you are out on the Landmarks, keep an eye out for the energetic cactus wren! To learn more about native wildlife on the Landmarks, visit