Rufous-backed wren

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Rufous-backed wren
Rufous-naped Wren JCB.jpg
in Santo Domingo, Costa Rica
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Troglodytidae
Genus: Campylorhynchus
C. capistratus
Binomial name
Campylorhynchus capistratus
(Lesson, 1842)

The rufous-backed wren (Campylorhynchus capistratus) is a songbird of the family Troglodytidae, the wrens. It is a resident breeding species from southwest Mexico to northwestern Costa Rica.

This large wren breeds in lowlands and foothills from sea level up to 800 m (2,600 ft) altitude in forest or open woodland, scrub, second growth and savanna. It is found mainly on the Pacific side of the central mountain ranges. Its spherical nest has a side entrance and is lined with seed down. It is constructed 1.5 to 8 m (4.9–26.2 ft) high in thorny trees or shrubs, especially bull’s-horn acacia. This species sometimes nests close to the nests of wasps and there is experimental evidence that those that do so are afforded substantial protection from predation by doing so.[2][3]

The female alone incubates the three to five brown- or black-spotted white eggs for about two weeks until hatching, and the young fledge after about the same length of time again. After breeding, families sleep together in dormitory nests like those used for breeding.

in Guanacaste province, Costa Rica

The adult rufous-backed wren is 17 cm (6.7 in) long and weighs 36 g (1.3 oz). It has a black crown and eyestripe separated by a strong white supercilium, a rufous nape, and cinnamon-brown upperparts streaked with black and white, especially on the rump. The wings and tail are barred with black and greyish-white. The underparts are white. Young birds have duller upperparts and buff underparts.

This species has a short rasping call. The song is a mix of rich whistles, chatters and gurgles often given as a duet.

The rufous-naped wren forages actively in low vegetation in pairs or family groups. It eats mainly insects, spiders and other invertebrates. This species is often tame and inquisitive.

Three main populations vary markedly in size and coloration, and now represent separate species: Veracruz wren (restricted to central coastal Veracruz), Sclater's wren (north and west from western Chiapas), and rufous-backed wren (south and east from western Chiapas). They were previously considered conspecific and called the rufous-naped wren. Some taxonomic authorities do not recognize the split, including the American Ornithological Society.


  1. ^ BirdLife International 2016. Campylorhynchus capistratus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T103887650A104216920. Downloaded on 29 June 2019.
  2. ^ Joyce, Frank J. (1993). "Nesting success of rufous-naped wrens (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) is greater near wasp nests". Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Springer-Verlag. 32 (2): 71–77. doi:10.1007/BF00164038.
  3. ^ Attenborough, David (1998). "The demands of the egg". The Life of Birds. Episode 8. 30:51 minutes in. BBC.
  • Stiles, F. Gary; Skutch, Alexander F. (1989). A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Comstock Publishing Associates. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4.
  • Vázquez-Miranda, Hernán; Navarro-Sigüenza, Adolfo G.; Omland, Kevin E. (2009). "Phylogeography of the rufous-naped wren (Campylorhynchus rufinucha): speciation and hybridization in Mesoamerica". Auk. 126 (4): 765–778. doi:10.1525/auk.2009.07048.
  • Sosa-López, J.R.; Mennill, D.J.; Navarro-Sigüenza, A.G. (2013). "Geographic variation and the evolution of song in Mesoamerican rufous-naped wrens Campylorhynchus rufinucha". Journal of Avian Biology. 43 (1): 1–12. doi:10.1111/j.1600-048X.2012.05651.x.