Written by: D. Dobkin
Reviewed by: L. Mewaldt
Edited by: R. Duke
DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND SEASONALITY
An uncommon resident restricted to cool, shaded
canyons with rock outcrops in mountains
of the inner Coast Ranges and the Sierra Nevada (Grinnell and Miller
1944). Found primarily
in riparian habitats, but vegetation apparently little affects distribution,
except to regulate
availability of nest materials and foods. Found from sea level
to 2250 m (7500 ft) (Linsdale
1938, Grinnell and Miller 1944). Usually found near water.
Absent along the coast north of
San Francisco Bay, from most of the Central Valley, and from southern
There are sparse populations in southern desert mountains.
SPECIFIC HABITAT REQUIREMENTS
Feeding: Gleans insects, spiders, and
other small invertebrates from rock surfaces or
ground, often in concealed sites. Hops or creeps while searching
for food. Requires cliffs
and large tangles of boulders for foraging (Grinnell and Miller 1944,
Cover: Small cliffs, talus, or rock outcrops
provide foraging, nesting, and other cover.
Reproduction: Nests on ledge in rock
cavern or crevice, in crevice of a cliff or bank, or on
shelf or in cavity of human-made structure (Harrison 1978). Nest
usually located near water
(Grinnell and Miller 1944) or in a stream-bearing canyon (Smyth and
Coulombe 1971). Nest
may be maintained and reused (Ehrlich et al. 1988).
Water: Prefers areas near water (Grinnell
and Miller 1944).
Pattern: Frequents cool, shaded canyons
with exposed rock outcrops, small cliffs, or
talus, usually in the vicinity of water.
SPECIES LIFE HISTORY
Activity Patterns: Yearlong, diurnal
Seasonal Movements/Migration: Not migratory.
May wander locally in winter (McCaskie
et al. 1988).
Home Range: Miller and Stebbins (1964)
never observed more than 1 pair per canyon.
Cody (1974) reported only 27% of available oak woodland habitat occupied
season, and only 34% occupied in winter. Also scarce in chaparral,
occupying only 22% of
this habitat in winter.
Territory: No data found.
Reproduction: Breeds from mid-March to
mid-July, with peak from mid-April to mid-May
(Bent 1948). Clutch size 4-6, mostly 5 or 6. Male helps
female build nest incubate eggs, and
feed altricial nestlings and fledglings (Verner and Willson 1969).
Niche: Very little life history information
available. Occasionally found in human-inhabited
areas with boulders or old stonework.
Bent, A. C. 1948. Life histories of North American nuthatches,
wrens, thrashers, and their
allies. U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull.
Cody, M. L. 1974. Competition and the structure of bird
communities. Princeton Univ. Press,
Princeton, NJ. 318pp.
Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's
handbook. Simon and
Schuster, New York. 785pp.
Grinnell, J., and A. H. Miller. 1944. The distribution
of the birds of California. Pac. Coast
Avifauna No. 27. 608pp.
Harrison, C. 1978. A field guide to the nests, eggs and
nestlings of north American birds. W.
Collins Sons and Co., Cleveland, OH.
Linsdale, J. M. 1938. Environmental responses of vertebrates
in the Great Basin. Am. Midl.
McCaskie, G., P. De Benedictis, R. Erickson, and J. Morlan. 1988.
Birds of northern
California, an annotated field list.
2nd ed. Golden Gate Audubon Soc., Berkeley.
Reprinted with suppl. 108pp.
Miller, A. H., and R. C. Stebbins. 1964. The lives of desert
animals in Joshua Tree National
Monument. Univ. California Press, Berkeley.
Smyth, M., and H. M. Coulombe. 1971. Notes on the use of desert
springs by birds in
California. Condor 73:240-243.
Tramontano, J. P. 1964. Comparative studies of the rock
wren and the canyon wren. M.S.
Thesis, Univ. Arizona., Tucson. 59pp.
Verner, J., and M. F. Willson. 1969. Mating systems, sexual
dimorphism, and the role of
male North American passerine birds in the
nesting cycle. Ornithol. Monogr. No. 9. 76pp.
Compiled from information from California Department of Fish and Game - California Interagency Wildlife Task Group