The internet appears to have nearly as many people getting caught up with Cholla Cacti as it has cute kittens doing funny stuff. It almost qualifies as a genre in itself.

PHX 08Jan15 Cholla Cactus 01

Now this is only a personal suspicion, but I reckon that the birds of the Sonoran Desert have set up candid cameras and are getting their Youtube footage by enticing birders close enough to the cholla bushes for the spiked fruit to make the leap onto their innocent carriers. It is possible that the birds feel so secure in the protection of the vicious, malicious plant that they can afford to reduce their flight distance and allow a close approach.

PHX 08Jan15 Cactus Wren 05

The Cactus Wren is especially at home in the Sonoran Desert and can often be seen silhouetted at the top of a cholla. The fruits easily detach and dig their murderous, barbed spikes into delicate Western Palearctic flesh and the birds tempt unwitting watchers closer and closer until……. Please note that this one is endorsed by the Profane Society of America.

PHX 08Jan15 Black-throated Sparrow 01

It is not just the wrens that get their kicks by enticing folk onto the spikes like wreckers luring ships onto the rocks. Black-throated Sparrows will tee themselves up atop a cactus to draw the unwary close enough to get skewered.

PHX 08Jan15 Curve-billed Thrasher 01

On this occasion the biggest draw was the Curve-billed Thrasher that was nestbuilding in a cactus beside the path at the Lost Dutchman State Park, just outside Phoenix.

PHX 08Jan15 Curve-billed Thrasher 02

How on Earth did it manage to manoeuvre twigs and sticks in such a confined space, surrounded by so many spikes without getting punctured or losing an eye?

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Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.