Cactus Wren — Master Of Its Universe

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The other morning I photographed a Cactus Wren surveilling its realm from atop a shrub in Sabino Canyon.

I really like this image because I think it almost perfectly captures this big wren’s personality — bold, even a bit obnoxious at times, but always self-confident.

The Cactus Wren is Arizona’s state bird and it’s an excellent choice.  In yesterday’s post I talked about how Saguaro Cacti are iconic to the Sonoran Desert.  So are Cactus Wrens, they are among those species that live only in the desert and that dominate the landscape.  They are a very common sight this time of year, especially early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  Like most desert species they tend to become inactive during foresummer’s searing mid-day heat.

Typically, one of these birds (males and females have identical plumage) will mount a cactus or a small tree or shrub early in the morning and sound off, telling everyone within dozens of yards that it is there, and that it is the master of its realm.  These birds are anything but musical.  Their call is a very loud, prolonged, harsh rattle — unmistakable if you’ve ever heard it.  It’s grating but it’s kind of endearing.  On a typical early morning desert walk I’ll cover two or three miles and never be out of earshot of a Cactus Wren.  As one bird’s call fades with distance another shows up to take over the local airwaves.

Image made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 500, f8 @ 1/1250.


3 responses to “Cactus Wren — Master Of Its Universe”

  1. Tom Munson says :

    Terrific image, Steve. My favorite AZ bird. I love these guys.

  2. Liesl Kii says :

    Thanks for the information on the Cactus Wren!

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