The lively song of the Canyon Wren is heard far more often than this bird is seen. The song, which echoes hauntingly through canyons, cascades and ripples down melodic scales, finishing on an unexpected upbeat. Because of its somewhat flattened body shape, the Canyon Wren is able to easily pass through narrow crevices. These small birds forage tirelessly during the hottest parts of the day, searching nooks and crevices with great vigilance for hidden insects and spiders. Their smooth strides are quite similar to those of a small rodent. While foraging and moving about its territory, a Canyon Wren will quickly raise and lower its hind quarters every few seconds, which is a useful identifying behavior. Catherpes is the Latinized form of the Greek word katherpein, meaning 'to creep.'
I.D.: Sexes similar: gray-streaked crown; clean white throat and upper breast; golden brown belly; black-and-white-spotted back and tail; long, downcurved bill; no eyebrow; finely barred tail.
Size: L 53/4 in. (15 cm).
Range: uncommon local breeder in the central and southern U.S. Rockies, typically west of the Continental Divide.
Habitat: open cliffs, canyons, boulder piles and rocky slopes in the montane.
Nesting: in a crevice under rocks, on a ledge or on a shelf in a cave; cup nest of moss, twigs and spiders silk is lined with fur and feathers; female incubates 5-6 eggs for up to 18 days; both parents feed the young.
Feeding: gleans rocks, exposed ground and vegetation for insects and spiders.
Voice: descending, whistled dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah dah-dah-dah.
Similar Species: Rock Wren: lightly streaked throat; faint eye line; gray back; light belly. Other wrens: all have an eyebrow.