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Cactus wren        Images © Mark A. Chappell

As their name implies, cactus wrens are very fond of nesting within the protective thorns of various spiny plants.   From the human perspective, probably the nastiest cactus species in the deserts of the American southwest is the teddy-bear cholla Opuntia bigelovii; the bird in the bottom image is happily singing from the top of one of these ferocious plants (the one above center is singing from a pencil cholla, a somewhat less vicious cholla species).  Most of the other wrens were perched on a somewhat less dangerous columnar cactus or ocotillo.   The bird to the right of the flying wren is the coastal race and the others are of the interior race.   A young bird can be seen two rows down, at right.   I took most the pictures near Palm Desert and in nearby Joshua Tree National Park, California; the coastal race wren was photographed near Escondido, California, and one bird was in southeastern Arizona.

  • 10D, Canon 1D Mk II, 1D3, 1D4, or 7D2; 500mm f4 IS with 1.4X or 2X converter or 800 mm IS lens with 1.4X converter, fill-in flash, except on flight shot (2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2015)