Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus Scientific name definitions

Stephanie L. Jones, Joseph Scott Dieni, Nathanial B. Warning, David Leatherman, Lorraine Dargis, and Lauryn Benedict
Version: 2.0 — Published January 6, 2023

Demography and Populations

Measures of Breeding Activity

Age of First Breeding; Intervals Between Breeding

Breeds appears to first breed at 1 year of age and presumably annually thereafter (SLJ).

Clutch Size and Number of Clutches per Season

Mean clutch size is 5.1 eggs ± 0.7 SD (median 6, range 3–7, n = 103; Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Cornell Nest Record Cards). In Colorado, mean clutch size was 4.5 eggs ± 0.9 SD (range 2–6, n = 22) (3).

Annual Reproductive Success and Lifetime Reproductive Success

Information needed. In one study, nests produced a mean of 2.9 fledglings (range 2–6, n = 22) (3).

Number of Broods Normally Reared per Season

Out of 28 pairs studied in Colorado, 8 pairs (29%) had second broods in the same breeding season, and 1 pair successfully fledged a third brood (3).

Life Span and Survivorship

The only reported recapture of a previously banded individual was that of a female banded as an adult in Arizona and subsequently recaptured at a minimum age of 4 yr 10 mo (89).

Information needed on survivorship.

Disease and Body Parasites

Information needed.

Causes of Mortality

Information needed.

Population Spatial Metrics

Individual Distance

In some canyons in the Front Range of Colorado, territories are evenly spaced approximately 0.6 km apart throughout suitable habitat (3). In a canyon along the South Platte River, 11 breeding territories were found in 3.2 km (SLJ, JSD). At Red Rocks Mountain Park in the Front Range, territory density was 4.5 per 100 ha (3). In northern Colorado, mean nearest-neighbor distance between breeding territory centers was 986 m ± 638 SD (range 360–2,152, n = 6) (69).

Territory Size

At Red Rocks Mountain Park, breeding territories were 1.3 ha ± 0.6 SD (range 0.4–2.8, n = 28), and winter territories were 1.0 ha ± 0.4 SD (range 0.2–1.9) (3). See also Territorial Behavior.

Home Range Size

In northern Colorado, the average 95% fixed-kernel home ranges of pairs was 5.6 ha ± 2.0 SD (range 2.5–9.1, n = 13), with 50% fixed-kernel core areas 0.65 ha ± 0.41 SD (range 0.26–1.6, n = 13) (69). Adjacent home ranges did not overlap (n = 6) (69).

Population Status


In 2020, Partners in Flight (90) estimated the global population at 1,000,000 individuals, with 58% of the species' population in Mexico, 38% in the United States, and < 1% in Canada. Using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), the Canyon Wren mean annual population was estimated at 420,000 individuals (95% CI: 330,000–550,000) in the United States for 2006–2015 (90). Populations within Bird Conservation Regions were estimated at 74,000 individuals (95% CI: 37,000–130,000) in the Southern Rockies/Colorado Plateau, 68,000 birds (95% CI: 38,000–110,000) in the Great Basin, and 64,000 individuals (95% CI: 22,000–130,000) in the Chihuahuan Desert (90). Within the United States, highest estimated populations were: Arizona, 86,000 (95% CI: 46,000–140,000); Texas, 65,000 (95% CI: 29,000–120,000); and California, 59,000 (95% CI: 30,000–95,000) (90).

Models based on eBird data indicate that mean relative abundance is highly variable across the species' range, but greatest in Mexico (e.g., Chihuahua, Sonora, Coahuila); within the United States, relative abundance is highest in Arizona and Texas. Highest counts on specific BBS routes in the United States 1996: 5.0 individuals (Garfield County, south-central Utah), 3.4 (Edwards County, southwestern Texas), and 3.0 (Santa Cruz County, Arizona) (91). Abundance is low across the northern part of the species' range, with many areas of appropriate habitat unoccupied (5).


BBS data are of limited value because the habitat of this species is inadequately surveyed and it has low abundance on surveys. From 1968–2019, the overall population in the United States declined 0.2% per year, although the 95% confidence interval (–1.5, 0.6) included zero, indicating that it was not statistically significant (n = 367 survey routes; 92).

Population Regulation

Information needed.

Recommended Citation

Jones, S. L., J. S. Dieni, N. B. Warning, D. Leatherman, L. Dargis, and L. Benedict (2023). Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.canwre.02