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    Saguaro

    National Park Arizona

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    For the safety of hikers and campers, some trail and campground closures have been enacted. All off-trail areas within Saguaro National Park east of Douglas Spring Trail and Manning Camp Trails are also closed. More »

Gila Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker

NPS

Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis)

This common Sonoran Desert woodpecker makes nest cavities in the sides of saguaros inbetween the skin and the inner ribs (the outer cortex) of the cactus. With the saguaro tissue serving as insulation, these cavities provide safety from predators and refuge from extreme temperatures. Abandoned woodpecker holes make great nests for elf owls, kestrels, and purple martins.

Length: 9.25 in. Wingspan: 16 in.

Diet: Insects, cactus fruit, and berries

Did You Know?

Gila Monster

Gila monsters are one of two venomous lizards in the world. The other is the similar Mexican beaded lizard. Gila monster venom evolved as a defensive rather than offensive weapon.