Tuesday, September 23, 2008

End of Summer Series: Cholla Cacti

As the end of our second summer in Sycamore Canyon draws to a close I think of all the new things I've learned and experienced since moving here a year and a half ago. There are so many new plants, animals and birds to see and learn about. Each day I feel that I am more in tune with the breathing of this desert landscape. When we first moved here I quickly learned about Cholla cacti (pronounced "choy-a"). These spiny plants grow all over the desert and break off in segments that fall to the ground to start new plants. On June 30 of this year before the Monsoon started I decided to hike out into the desert with a bucket and tongs to collect a few cholla segments. I brought them home and tossed them into the vacant wash that borders my house in an effort to encourage regrowth. I tossed them and forgot about them until this past Sunday...

...when I looked over the wall and look what I found! A baby cholla has taken root right behind my house. Why would I want a cholla to grow here you ask? Because the roots will discourage erosion, and the cactus will provide shelter for one of my favorite insect eating birds...

A catus wren! These noisy little charecters build nests in the spiny chollas to protect themselves from predators. I don't know how this little one can perch on these sharp spines but it doesn't seem to mind. Can you find the nest in the cactus below?

Cactus Wren nest in Sycamore Canyon cholla 3-19-08 by Kathie

This is the first in the End of Summer Series 2008. Come back tomorrow to see Gus' photo "Rat: It's What's for Dinner."


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

How DO those little feet keep from getting poked?

Oh, nooo... Not another rat!

kjpweb said...

Woah! That is a fantastic image of the Cactus Wren! Superb!
Cheers, Klaus

Celeste said...

Great post - when I first moved to the US I really wanted to see a Cactus Wren, I was lucky enough to be able to sit and watch a pair feeding young at their nest, it was fabulous.

I love cactii too but being in the midwest I have to content myself with ones grown in my window!

bobbie said...

I love that baby cactus. So glad you did that.

Kathryn and Ari said...

So beautiful. I particularly love the cactus wren. Growing up in Phoenix, I remember that my parents had coffee mugs with etchings of a wren on them: I used to sit on Sunday mornings and memorize all those bars and stripes and contours. That was the first time I really fell in love with a bird.

Anonymous said...

Nice Cactus Wren photograph. I think all wrens must be noisy but still beautiful to have around.

Brookville, Ohio

Doug Taron said...

Chollas are really beautiful plants. They are the species where I have most often encountered cactus longhorn beetles, which are a favorite species of mine.

Kathie Brown said...

Lynne, I often wonder the same thing. That is a mystery I'm not sure anyone can solve.

Klaus, thanks for the compliment and the visit.

Celeste, I am surprised that I like cacti so much because they seem to me an unfriendly plant with all those spines, but sculpturally they are beautiful and I can't resist them.

Bobbie, me too! I may do it again soon!

Kathryn that sounds so lovely. What a great way to fall in love!

Abe, as you know, I love wrens. We have such a nice variety here with Cactus, canyon, rock, Bewick's and house wrens! Amazing isn't it. You have some nice photos of wrens on your birds blog also, which I so enjoy!

Doug, I will have to come take a look at that beetle so if I see one I will know what I am looking at. Thanks for the info! You are always a great help!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, a wren photo! I did find the nest in the photo, and I think you're doing a good deed by stimulating wren habitat. I hope you are rewarded with many avian visitors.

Mary said...

Love that wren shot! They are such cool birds and they really hide those nests well.

Arija said...

No matter where we live, there is beauty and life we can find if we just look. Whether it is an arid desertscape, a tropical paradise or an othersise soul destroying city slum. It's that one glowing red geranium on the window sill and a pigeon occasionally landing to pick up a crumb.
Beauty is always there waiting to be seen.

Larry said...

I'll bet I could do that too.-Where's a cactus? I want to stand on it.-No really-nice photo!

Texas Travelers said...

Good for you. The Cactus Wren is my second favorite wren. I just like their 'song'. Canyon Wren is the favorite, especially when it's calling in a deep canyon.

Love that Coyote photo also.

Thanks for the visit,
Troy and Martha

PS: the terns in the photo are Royal Terns in non-breeding plumage. Note the white forehead.
We don't get Elegants here.

BTW: good going in solving the bat and feeder mystery.