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A Scorpion for the Babies

A Scorpion for the Babies
Photo Information
Copyright: Jane Magen (jaycee) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-08-15
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon PowerShot S5 IS, 1.5 Teleconverter
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/320 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Date Submitted: 2008-09-24 8:20
Viewed: 3492
Points: 56
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Cactus Wren

Largest wren in United States; 7-9 inches long. Both sexes with dull, rusty crown, streaked back, heavily spotted breast, tawny-colored sides and belly; wing and tail feathers barred black and white (showing a white tail band in flight); conspicuous broad white stripe over eye. No differences between breeding and nonbreeding plumage. The tail is not usually held cocked as in most other wrens. Juveniles resemble adults but have lighter, smaller chest spots and shorter tails. The song is a low raspy cha cha cha cha cha, very reminiscent of a car's engine trying to turn over on a cold winter day.

Desert areas with taller cacti (especially cholla), or arid hillsides and valleys with other thorny plants capable of supporting their bulky nests. The cactus wren is abundant below 4,000 feet in Arizona, but has been found up to 6,000 feet in New Mexico.

The cactus wren is an active, inquisitive, and adaptable bird found commonly in most Arizona deserts, making it an appropriate choice for the state bird. The female selects the nest site; the nest is often placed in cholla, but also in other cacti and thorny trees and shrubs such as mesquite, ironwood, paloverde, and catclaw acacia. Both the male and female build the nest.

The cactus wren's nest is a large, conspicuous, spherical structure usually built with dry grasses and annual plants; strips of discarded paper and cloth found along roadsides are frequently woven in. A long, narrow-sided passage into an internal chamber, as well as the thorny substrate, protects this nest from most predators, although eggs and nestlings are frequently taken by coachwhips and whipsnakes in Arizona. As with most wren nests, the nest chamber is usually lined with feathers. In Arizona, Gambel's quail feathers seem to make up the bulk of the lining (a related species, the masked bobwhite, was once thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in Sonora, Mexico, a few decades ago after biologists found its feathers in cactus wren nests and began searching for it). The female cactus wren incubates, starting with the first egg, while the male builds a new nest in preparation for a second clutch. Additional nest structures are constructed and used as roosts throughout the year. The roost nests often lack the feather lining.

Arizona Game and Fish

jconceicao, nglen, siggi, boreocypriensis, techranger, gracious, Dis. Ac., Ken52, jrobertop, eqshannon, jusninasirun, CeltickRanger, tuslaw, rcrick, Argus, haraprasan, iris, goldyrs, sranjan has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Adanac: Lucyjaycee 1 09-25 19:49
To eqshannon: Cowboy Hatjaycee 1 09-24 16:23
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-09-24 8:31]

Hello Jane,
A photo full of spines. Even the markings in the feathers looks spiny. Cactus Wren is a very suitable name. Specially in this photo.
Very beautiful photo in a great composition. Colours and sharpness are excellent.

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2008-09-24 8:48]

Hi Jane,not usual to see a bird inside a cactus! And what a wonderfull moment to take the pic! Very excellent work,my best compliments,have a nice day,Luciano

Hello Jane,

Great capture.
Nice colours.
Good composition and details.

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-09-24 9:04]

Hi Jane . Our Wren is a tiny little thing we have one in the garden so i will try to get its picture. This one has good markings which you have captured well with fine detail and natural colours. Good timing to get this one with a meal in its mouth. well done TFS.

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2008-09-24 9:05]

Hello Jane,
Amazing sharp photo of this Wren. The details are perfect. Excellent natural colours, POV, composition and BG. Fantastic photo!

  • Great 
  • Arjun Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 358 W: 7 N: 1237] (7593)
  • [2008-09-24 9:52]

hello madam
Wonderful picture.the compo and the perch is lovely.
I feel the sharpness is a bit soft :-)


Ahh Jane, my big sister scorpions are very dangerous meals for babies:) A great timely capture with wonderful sharpness and details. I like the composition as well. Many thanks for sharing this fine and also documentary image sister.
All the best!


Jane... what a great capture of the Cactus Wren in its preferred habitat. Great and informative notes too. Beautifully composed and presented. TFS


Hello Jane,
Nice to see the Wren in it's natural environment with a catch on the scorpion in it's beck!
I loved the pov with good sharpness, natural colour and details over the shot
well done

Hi Jane,
They are very special birds! I like the patterns on their plumage. Composition is good and colors natural. This is an interesting capture! Well done,

hi Jane,

nice shot from this Cactus Wren with food for the youngsters.
Good notes.
I won't live in such a big cactus.
This bird nailed its prey also fixed to the cactus?

  • Great 
  • Ken52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
  • [2008-09-24 14:57]

Nice interesting photo with some amazing texture and excellent light!

Great show...at least he got it before it got someone else..My aunt who lived in Miami Beach used to always chortle to me out the back door on our visits..."don't play out there...scorpions"...She was a bit overprotective or a common sense person, but since she died rich and left me with nada...I am biased in opinion:-) A fine image and one which brought up old memories for the 1950's...thanks Jane..you are always my shining Star of David! I just now took the workshop image for you!. That's my 'cowboy hat'

Hello Jane. Sharp focus on this wren with excellent focus on the cactus too. I like the framing with the nest and food in the mouth against the well muted background. Good plumage exposure and I like the eye that is so sharp here. Well done and best regards. Jusni

hello Jane

excellent shot of the Cactus Wren with fine POV and framing,
excellent sharpness and details, i love the way it is framed
between the 2 cactus, TFS

p.s. today being tired i am brif in my critiques

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2008-09-24 19:22]

Nicely composed shot Jane,
This is one (BIG) wren, ours are much smaller here in Ohio. Very nice colors with great detail, love the texture of the cactus with those prickly spines. TFS.

Hello Jane

A super capture of this cactus wren,the scorpion in the beak is a big bonus.
The colours are excellent with lovely lighting.
Wonderful detail and composition.
The cactus makes a super backdrop.


Hi Jane,

Never seen one of these before, they look pretty big for a wren, ours a tiny little things and dart around like they've had one to many coffees’, excellent shot showing great detail in the plumage, wonderful colours and framed nicely in amongst the cactus bush, t.f.s

Cheers Rick :)

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-09-25 1:10]

Hello Jane,
I remember you showing us this pretty bird in its cactus nest before. The youngsters must be well protected from enemies among all those spikes!! I like this composition very much with the bird on the way to feed its young. Fine details and lovely colours too.
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

Hello Jane.
What marvellous composition!
Perfect framing and great perspective also.
Superb quality photographic.
My compliments and TFS!
José Roberto

Ciao Jane, lovely compositioon with bird inside a cactus, god sharpness, fine details and splendid colors, I like a lot, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-09-25 9:33]

Hello Jane,
An attractive capture of a Cactus Wren in its natural habitat and with a bit of food for the youngsters. The pose and POV are great and the composition among the cactus branches wonderful.
Thanks for sharing another fine image of this wonderful bird,

Hi Jane,
A nice capture of this beautiful cactus wren. Superb composition and good details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-09-25 14:17]

Hi Jane,
excellent shot of this Cactus Wren.
Great composition.
Superb DOF.

Very good work.


  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-09-25 19:19]
  • [+]

Hi My friend,
Lucy is jealous of your hot tub, I wish you wouldn't have mentioned it. This is a superb image I still have trouble with the concept of a bird landing on a cactus, ouch. Scorpion for lunch , ouch. Me buying a hot tub, ouch. Thanks for sharing this wonderful image with this wren and her meal.

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-09-27 16:04]

Hello Jane! Great capture of this Wren with it's meal! Very sharp and well composed image, well done again!


You make this wren look very beautiful, Jane!
I love the entirity of this shot, it is detailed, and aesthetically presented!
Very well done!

Hello Jane,
Unique POV for this bird with excellent photographer's note. TFS.

Calibration Check