Thursday, April 05, 2012

Under the mistletoe

Cactus wrens are known for their large, untidy enclosed nests, often built in chollas or desert trees like Palo Verde or Mesquite. The nests are sometimes decorated with found objects, such as tissue paper, cellophane, or bits of yarn or colored thread, resulting in a rather antic-looking nest that seems to suit these bold, sassy desert birds.Cactus wren on cholla 10-18-2010 8-14-04 AM 1108x908                               Cactus wren nest 8-29-2011 7-54-56 AM 1884x1934 8-29-2011 7-54-56 AM 1884x1934

The other day at Tohono Chul Park I was amazed to watch a pair of cactus wrens working on a nest INSIDE a huge clump of desert mistletoe that hung from the branches of a flowering sweet acacia tree. When they had finished, you could easily see the bottom of the nest by standing directly under the mistletoe, and I have since watched the birds flying in and out of their hidden aerie.

                    Here’s the mistletoe:                               

              mistletoe 3-24-2012 9-03-06 AM 1710x2482   

And here’s the nest, hidden inside it:

                                                    nest in mistletoe 3-24-2012 9-02-34 AM 3616x2712

I have also since learned that this behavior is common out in the desert, and that many birds besides cactus wrens and phainopeplas build in, under, or on mistletoe.

1 comment:

  1. Arizona has mistletoe? In the desert? I never would have guessed.