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  • Writer's pictureDana Glossbrenner

Cactus Wrens

I appreciate the little cactus wren, but sometimes I forget I'm not one. The cactus wren builds its nest in the branches of cholla cactus, pictured here, a shot I took during a recent outing to Big Bend National Park. It has a distinctive little call--like a miniature crow--a call I'd heard often and hadn't known where it came from. Here's a link about cactus wrens and recordings of their calls from deserts of the Southwest, California to Texas.

And of course I have to philosophize about these hardy little birds. They are aggressive, known to chase squirrels much larger than themselves away from their territory and to peck open the eggs of other bird species in the habitat competition. No self-respecting puma or many snakes or other birds would want to take on those cactus thorns guarding the nest.

I see attitude all over this nest among the thorns as well as in the blossoms of this cactus. Each year, the wrens build a new nest over the old one--hence the size. I sometimes forget I'm not a cactus wren, though, and I find myself growing "thorns" to keep people out--thorns not necessary for survival, as they are for the cactus wren. And someone else's "nest" doesn't need to be undermined for mine to feel secure. I don't have to keep roosting in the same "nest," either. New and uncertain situations bring out this human trait that's not necessary to the survival of our species.

Peace, love, and open minds are what we need on all fronts.

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