The Tale of the Cactus Wren and the Saguaro

Well, it’s not really a tale. More of a newspaper story. Really, even, it’s the Arizona Republic answering your questions. Let’s go to the tape:

I have a saguaro that has holes being made by a cactus wren. I know that is what cactus wrens do, but is there any way I can stop it or at least repair the holes after they leave?

This question is brought to me in one form or another about once a year, and it always sort of irks me a bit.

First of all, the wrens didn’t make the hole in the cactus. That was the work of a woodpecker or flicker. The wrens just move in after the original owners leave.

Cactus wrens actually prefer cholla cactus.

Second, unless the cactus is diseased or otherwise really stressed, the holes aren’t going to hurt the cactus. The plant heals itself from the inside by sealing off the hole with a polymer called lignin.

Third, you should be happy to have the cactus wrens around. And all the other birds, lizards, small rodents and everything else that might be attracted to your saguaro. Do you have any idea how many people would like to have something like that in their yards?

Just relax and enjoy your cactus.

That is a fantastic answer, so I hope Clay Thompson doesn’t mind that I quoted it in its entirety.

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April 2024

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