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A wren and a saguaro skeleton

At the Sonoran Desert Museum last March, this cactus wren scolded me from the top of a saguaro cactus skeleton. These birds take charge and stand their ground. They do not tolerate nest predators and will mob and attack anything that invades their nests. They are true desert survivors that have evolved to get all the water they need from insects and fruit. They have no need to drink standing water. To see how precious water is to this ecosystem, check out this beautiful video about the Saguaro National Park. The fate of these birds is tied to the health of cactus and shrubs that are in decline as a result of habitat destruction and climate change. The wren’s cumulative decline is about 51% from 1966 to 2019, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The web of life held together by the saguaro is amazing. Read more about the mystery of saguaro cactus decline in the park here. “Saguaros are an important part of the Sonoran desert as something of a keystone species,” writes Zach Fitzner. “Saguaros are pollinated by bees, birds and less commonly by bats.” (The lesser longnose bat is a good example. Read more about bat pollination here.) “Coyotes and other wildlife eat the saguaro fruit. Gila woodpeckers peck nests into the outer part of saguaros while gilded flickers hammer deeper into the cactus for their homes.”

Cactus wren on a saguaro skeleton is a 12 x 12 inch acrylic painted on a wood panel.

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