Rock Wrens have the most unusual habit of 'paving' a walkway to their nests. They occasionally make this gravel welcome mat by carefully placing up to 1500 stones and pebbles, although, typically, only a few stones are used. The exact purpose of this paving is not clear: it might protect the nest from moisture, or it might make the nest easier to find in the monotonous terrain. Rock Wrens are found in rocky areas throughout the West. Coastal cliffs, desert outcrops and mountain cliffs are some of the varied breeding habitats preferred by these birds. Salpinctes is from the Greek word for 'trumpeter,' in reference to this bird's loud call.
I.D.: Sexes similar: gray-brown upperparts; light underparts; white throat; finely streaked, white breast; rusty brown rump and tail; downcurved bill; tail is trimmed with buff-colored tips.
Size: L 6 in. (15 cm).
Range: common resident in the southern and central U.S. Rockies; increasingly rare in spring and summer north into Montana and southern Canada.
Habitat: rocks, cliffs and open, rocky slopes in the montane.
Nesting: in a small crevice or hole in a cliff; places small stones at the opening; nest is made of grass and rootlets and lined with a variety of items; incubates 5-6 eggs for up to 14 days.
Feeding: forages on the ground and picks up insects and spiders from around and under rocks.
Voice: harsh tra-lee tra-lee tra-lee; long, drawn out, melodious keree keree keree, chair chair chair, deedle deedle deedle, tur tur tur, keree keree trrrrrr.
Similar Species: Canyon Wren: clean white throat; brown underparts; no eyebrow. House Wren: brown upperparts; shorter bill.