Saguaro National Park Animals and Saguaros

Do animals use the saguaro? Saguaro cacti are host to a great variety of animals. The gilded flicker and Gila woodpecker excavate nest cavities inside the saguaro's pulpy flesh. When a woodpecker abandons a cavity, elf owls, screech owls, purple martins, finches and sparrows may move in.

Gila Woodpecker

Large birds, like the Harris's and red-tailed hawks, also use the saguaro for nesting and hunting platforms. Their stick nests are constructed among the arms of a large saguaro. In turn, ravens and great horned owls may take over an abandoned hawk nest.

Western Screech Owl

Saguaro cacti also provide a valuable source of food for animals. In late summer, ripening fruit provides moisture and an energy-rich food during a time of scarcity. In drier areas of the Sonoran Desert, pack rats, jackrabbits, mule deer and bighorn sheep will also eat the saguaro's flesh when other water sources are not available.

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