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Lizard Eaten by Cactus Wren

Tracy I. Storer
4 (July-August)
From Field and Study
Online Text:

Lizard Eaten by Cactus Wren

While collecting in the tree yucca belt about three miles west of the town of Mohave, Kern County, California, on March 30, 1920, I shot a male Cactus Wren (Heleodytes brunneicapillus couesil. When retrieved the bird was seen to have the abdomen slightly protuberant in the region of the gizzard as though the latter was unusually full. Upon dissection I found that the principal item of food, and the one which formed fully 95 percent of the contents of the gizzard was a Desert Brown-shouldered Lizard (Uta stansburiana elegans). The reptile was about two inches long. It had been swallowed entire although the head looked as though it had first been beaten almost to a pulp. I can find no previous record of a Cactus Wren taking reptiles for food. Beal (Biol. Surv. Bull. 30, 1907, pp. 64-65), in an examination of 41 stomachs from southern California, found insects to be the usual food, the only vertebrate material being some of the long bones of a tree frog.

At the locality where this bird was taken there were very few cholla cactuses and the Cactus Wrens were using the tops of the tree yuccas as song perches.

Tracy I. Storer

Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Berkeley, California, May 14, 1920

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