Cactus, Birds and Boots

Gila Woodpecker Hole Desert Mus-Tucson by Lee

Gila Woodpecker Hole Desert Mus-Tucson by Lee

Again, while at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, we learned more about the “Cactus Boot.” I was aware that Woodpeckers, especially the local Gila Woodpecker,  make their homes in cactus, especially Saguaro Cactus. I also knew that the cactus, to prevent loss of moisture, seals around the “wound”, a.k.a. nest cavity. Another way the Lord created the plants and birds to survive in the harsh conditions of a desert.

Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) Desert Mus-Tucson by Lee

Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) Desert Mus-Tucson by Lee

One of the docents gave a short lesson about the cactus and the Saguaro boot that was very interesting. First, notice the ribs or pleats on the cactus. These allow the cactus to expand during the rainy times to allow storage of water. Then as the dry seasons arrive, they will contract again. Wise creation design. The Anatomy section of the Cactaceae (cactus family) has a great explanation about this. “A fully hydrated large stem is more than 90 percent water and weighs 80 pounds per foot (120 kg per meter).”

The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing. … They shall see the glory of the LORD, The excellency of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2 NKJV)

Showing the ribs of a dead Saguaro and holes where the Woodpeckers had their boot.

Showing the ribs of a dead Saguaro and holes where the Woodpeckers had their boot.

“Near the center of the stem is a cylinder of 13 to 20 woody ribs running the length of the main stem and branching into the arms. In the upper part of a stem the ribs are separate; as the stem ages the ribs continue to grow and fuse into a latticed cylinder.”

Cactus Boot Lesson

Cactus Boot Lesson

When the Gila Woodpecker and other birds make the nest in the cactus, a hole is created, to the birds preference and then the cactus seals around that area. When they take these cavity nest out of old/dead cactus it looks like a “boot.”

Cactus Boot Desert Mus-Tuscon by Lee

Cactus Boot Desert Mus-Tuscon by Lee

The Gila woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) is a medium-sized woodpecker of the desert regions of the southwestern United States and western Mexico. In the U.S., they range through southeastern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. (Wiki)

PIC-Pici Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) Desert Mus-Tucson cr(11)

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20 NKJV)

Besides the Saguaros, they also make nest in mesquite trees. Their cavaties in the cacti are later used by other species, even the elf owl. They usually lay 3-5 white eggs.

Here are some photos of the Cactus, Birds and Boots:

Psalms 33:1-8 NKJV
(1) Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.
(2) Praise the LORD with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
(3) Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
(4) For the word of the LORD is right, And all His work is done in truth.
(5) He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
(6) By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
(7) He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses.
(8) Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

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