December 16, 2007
Organ Pipes and Cactus Wrens
I just got back from spending four days at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument helping with their seasonal interpretive training. It was my first time to the southwestern corner of Arizona. While it's still part of the Sonoran Desert, it's much more lush than other places I've been in the state. A tremendous variety of cacti, including the rare organ pipe cactus pictured above, and scrub bushes like mesquite and creosote. The organ pipes themselves are pretty darn cool. And a lot bigger than I had expected them to be. While they don't get nearly as tall as a 30-40 foot saguaro, they can easily reach heights of ten to fifteen feet.
Even though I didn't see any new birds (they just don't get the number of unique Mexican species that you can find in southeastern Arizona), the personality of the birds they did have more than made up for it.
This Cactus Wren (which happens to be the Arizona state bird) decided to come check out my can of soda while I was coaching some of the park's employees at a picnic table behind the visitor center. I think he wins the prize for the most charismatic wren I've ever encountered.
How can you compete with something like this? As cool as Canyon Wrens are, there's just no contest.