A cactus wren holds a twig in its mouth as it builds a nest in the arms of a saguaro at the Brown's Ranch Trailhead in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

On April 28th I arrived at my first visit to Brown’s Ranch in McDowell Sonoran Preserve, my fifth hike and fourth hiking location since moving to Arizona a month prior. I was pleased that even though I arrived mentally and physically exhausted I was forcing myself to go out and explore some area parks, even though it meant getting up a while before sunrise. As soon as I stepped past the welcome center I was reminded that while I should be proud of all I had accomplished the past six months, my struggles had been minor compared to what many face every day. There in the arms of a saguaro, the light just cresting the distant hills, stood a cactus wren with a twig in its mouth, building a nest in such a seemingly inhospitable host in a seemingly inhospitable land. Brown’s Ranch became an immediate favorite as did the plucky wrens that in the coming weeks I got to watch not just build their nests but raise their families in them.

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