Cactus Condo

gila woodpecker.2.web

Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) in Saguaro (Cereus giganteus). Phoenix, Arizona, USA © Duncan Butchart, 2013

The Sonoran Desert spans the border country between southwestern USA and Mexico. Here, around Phoenix, the lowlands are all set about with imposing Saguaro Cactus (Cereus giganteus) – many over 15 meters tall and clearly ancient. Ghostly Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii) grow along the rivers that flow from the juniper-clad (and in winter, snowy) mountains.

Numerous birds and other forms of life have evolved in this desert, including the Gila Woodpecker. This is a conspicuous and noisy bird that excavates its nest hole in the ‘trunk’ or limbs of the giant cacti. These condos are frequently taken over by other birds including the tiny Elf Owl. It is springtime here now, so the woodpeckers (and most other birds) are starting their breeding cycle, while migrants from the neotropics pass through the area.

Phoenix, Arizona, USA. April 2013

About Duncan Butchart

Duncan Butchart is interested in all aspects of the natural world, with a particular fascination for birds and their ecological relationships.
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2 Responses to Cactus Condo

  1. Laurence says:

    Hey Duncan!

    Lovely painting; it and your charming writing are a delight, as is that raucous Woodpecker in person.
    If you’re interested, I’m getting my photos and post from the Phoenix Mountain Preserve up on my site this evening.


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