Family Wrens (Troglodytidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-backed Wren (Campylorhynchus capistratus)


French: Troglodyte à dos roux German: Rostrücken-Zaunkönig Spanish: Cucarachero dorsicastaño

Picolaptes capistrata


, 1842,

Realejo, Nicaragua


Until recently considered conspecific with C. rufinucha and C. humilis, but differs from latter in characters given under that species and from former in its plain vs lightly spotted underparts (2); much less restricted rufous on nape, extending (in most cases) to rump (2); longer wing (allow 1); duetting song with both birds uttering low-pitched melodious whistles of comparable shape, in synchrony, vs both birds uttering quite different notes in perfect synchrony (4)#R. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. nigricaudatus (Nelson, 1897) – S Mexico (Chiapas) and W Guatemala.
  • C. c. castaneus Ridgway, 1888 – interior of Guatemala E to Honduras.
  • C. c. xerophilus (Griscom, 1930) – upper Motagua Valley, EC Guatemala.
  • C. c. capistratus (Lesson, 1842) – Pacific coast of El Salvador and Nicaragua S to NW Costa Rica.
  • C. c. nicoyae A. R. Phillips, 1986 – Nicoya Peninsula, in NW Costa Rica.
  • C. c. nicaraguae (W. deW. Miller & Griscom, 1925) – interior of Nicaragua.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–19 cm; 24–40 g. Unmistakable over most of range. Adult has crown and eyestripe black, broad white supercilium, hindneck and mantle rufous, lower back and rump more... read more


    Song a prolonged series of rich chortling phrases, usually 3–8 notes, interspersed with harsher... read more


    Arid and semi-arid areas with dry scrub (especially with Opuntia cactus), including areas... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds predominantly on invertebrates, especially small beetles, crickets, larvae, roaches, spiders and so on; probably also takes some... read more


    Season mid Mar to Jul, mostly Apr–Jun, in El Salvador; Apr–Aug in Costa Rica; probably single-brooded. Nest built by both sexes, a bulky... read more


    Apparently entirely sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common or abundant in many parts of its range. Appears able to tolerate substantial habitat modification, provided sufficient bushes... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rufous-backed Wren (Campylorhynchus capistratus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2020).