Saguaro Boot

A couple of starlings are raising their chicks in my saguaro.  Here is a photo showing one of the parents and a few other holes in the cactus.  (See the fruit on the ends of the arms.)  Starlings are not mentioned in the Web info on which birds nest in the “boots”:

The saguaro is like a multi-storied complex; many animals live in close quarters and the occupants change constantly. The Gila woodpecker and glided flicker dwell in nest holes they make in the trunk of saguaros. These birds excavate new holes each spring and reject several cavities in one nesting season before settling in one and raising a family.

Once a woodpecker or flicker has hollowed out a nest, the saguaro heals over the injury creating a tough boot-shaped structure. Heavily impregnated with lignin, it resists decay and can offer nest holes to hundreds of birds through the life of the cactus.

The birds who compete for the homes include: American kestrel, cactus wrens, Lucy’s warblers, phainopeplas, elf owls, purple martins, screech owls, western kingbirds.  For residents, the holes are a retreat from desert temperature extremes. Well insulated by thick walls, the holes are as much as 20 degrees cooler in summer and 20 degrees warmer in the winter.

Leeks

Who would have thought that a rabbit would eat leek greens?  I know that Peter Rabbit’s mother gave him chamomile tea for a sick stomach after eating too many of Mr. McGregor’s radishes, but leeks?!  (Or do the mice eat them?)

I have decided that I need a raised garden, away from invasive tree roots, screened from the nibblers.

Prey

My cat brought me a tiny bird yesterday evening.  Couldn’t identify it – slim, and in size between a hummingbird and a goldfinch, with a thin beak, and a nondescript dusty color.  I took it from the cat, gave it a pet, and it flew away.  (Faring better than the lizard, drawn and quartered, on the patio the other morning.)

A collared lizard has managed to escape her clutches so far.  It often suns on or next to my spa deck.

Mice and Spiders

I am losing the (outside) battle to the mice and spiders.  Half-a-dozen tiny holes in the hard dirt next to my patio must be from mice.  (I guess the cat inside the fence is less threat than the coyotes outside the fence?)  When my daughter visited last, with family and dog, the dog dug up a mouse burrow, a series of tunnels, among my century plants.  This must be where they then moved.

Now I am not opposed to having spiders around outside.  They do control the flying insects.  There seem to be enough gnats and moths around to keep them going.  However, the myoporum is covered by the webs of the funnel-web spider, and they have collected all of the dead palo verde flowers, as well as other detritus, and just look messy.  (Photo of the spider itself is from the Web – haha.)

Funnel-Web Spider
DESCRIPTION: Length to 1/2″. Color is brown to gray with various markings on body. These spiders are easily identified by their funnel-shaped webs.
NATURAL HISTORY: The spiders tend to stay hidden in the funnel of their web until an insect enters the web. The vibrations on the web are felt by the spider who then rushes out to seize its prey.

Snookered

When Safeway started carrying Starbucks coffee (I buy their espresso blend – not as harsh as other espressos), I was delighted at the price, and didn’t realize, until I got home, that I had bought a 12 oz bag, instead of a pound.  No wonder it was cheaper!  Alas, a year later, I bought the least expensive bacon, and when I went to use it, it dawned on me that I had been snookered again – it was a 12 oz package.

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.

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5 Responses to “Saguaro Boot”

  1. Jim Says:

    I suspect that the kestrel and screech owl prey on baby birds; it would be interesting to discover the fate of those starling nestlings.
    I suspect that the small bird is a house wren, in the same family as the much larger cactus wren. Here the house wren hunts the spiders under the eves of the house. Once, when a wren accidentally got into the house for an entire day, he ate up all of the spiders on the walls and ceilings.
    I holes of the pocket mice are usually well concealed at the base of bushes. The holes of the tarantula spider are in open.

  2. Mitch Anderson Says:

    Well, doesn’t Lynne make me feel like a slacker! I always have thought I should keep a diary, and Lynne is doing it! I will just pretend it is mine. I am so impressed Lynne… I am pretty full of eclectic and mundane facts, but Lynne, every time I read yours I learn something(s). I give you a huge bag of compliments for such fun writing.. and discipline.

  3. Jim Says:

    A series of tunnels instinctively dug up by a dog, indicates rodent odors. It is a natural mystery to be solved, Lynne. We await the results of your further observations. Have you been out late at night, just before bed, with your flashlight?

  4. Jim Says:

    The pocket mice are not related to mice; they are related kangaroo rats -which are not rats; and they are perfectly harmless – and delightful watch at night, as they hop about like miniature kangaroos. Snakes and owls are their predators.

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