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Species Guide

Band-backed Wren

Campylorhynchus zonatus

The band-backed wren, known scientifically as Campylorhynchus zonatus, is a small yet robust member of the wren family. This bird is easily recognized by its brown-grey crown and black nape, while the rest of its upperparts and tail exhibit a striking pattern of black, tawny, and white bars. The adult measures approximately 16.5 cm in length and weighs around 29 grams. Its breast and throat are white, adorned with prominent black spots, and the belly boasts a warm cinnamon hue. Juveniles present a more subdued appearance with duller upperparts and off-white to buff underparts.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the band-backed wren, look for its heavily barred upperparts with black, tawny, and white markings. The bird's white breast and throat, speckled with black, are also distinctive features. The cinnamon belly and the bird's size and shape can help distinguish it from other wren species.


The band-backed wren is found in a variety of habitats, including lowlands and foothills up to 1700 meters in altitude. It favors thinned forests, open woodlands, scrub, and second growth, as well as groves around human dwellings. It is predominantly found on the Caribbean side of the Central American mountain ranges.


This species is a resident breeder that ranges from south-central Gulf Coast Mexico to northwestern Ecuador. Its distribution includes five disjunct areas, with a central population in southern Central America, specifically in Costa Rica and northern Panama. Additional populations are located in northern Colombia adjacent to Panama and in northwestern Ecuador.


The band-backed wren is a sociable bird, often seen foraging in active family groups consisting of 4 to 12 individuals. After the breeding season, these family units continue to roost together in communal dormitory nests, which are also used for breeding.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the band-backed wren includes a short, rasping "zek" call. Its song is an eclectic mix of dry chatters, splutters, and gurgles, contributing to the ambient sounds of its natural habitat.


Breeding band-backed wrens construct large spherical nests with a side entrance, often cleverly concealed amidst bromeliads. These nests can be found 2 to 30 meters above ground in trees or shrubs. The female incubates a clutch of three to five eggs, which may be unmarked or lightly spotted with brown. Incubation lasts about two weeks until hatching, and the fledglings leave the nest after a similar period.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the band-backed wren primarily consists of insects, spiders, and other invertebrates, which they actively seek out while moving through their habitat.

Conservation status

The band-backed wren is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List, indicating that it does not face any immediate threats to its survival on a global scale.

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More Wrens

A photo of a Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)

Cactus Wren

Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
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