HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — There is a bumper crop of tunas in the South Texas wildlands this summer, and that is great news for wildlife.
Often, it is a golden-fronted woodpecker that first pierces the ripening fruit of prickly pear cactus.
Tunas, as they are known in Spanish, provide a nutritious treat for a variety of birds, and this curved-billed thrasher waits its turn at the tuna while a hungry golden front pecks away.
And if the fruit can’t be reached from the ground, then the thrasher will hop right up onto the tasty tuna to dine. Long-billed thrashes are also quick to take advantage of the juicy fruit.
Scaled quail savor the summertime treat, and often stop by for a quick peck.
Meanwhile, a pair of pyrrhuloxias relishes a freshly opened fruit, but their meal is interrupted by the arrival of a long-billed thrasher. Nearby, another pyrrhuloxia peers out from behind a pear to snatch a few morsels.
This female cardinal has found a handy perch to safely reach her tuna delight, and a Greenjay readily avails itself of another accessible meal.
A young mockingbird tentatively tastes the tuna, but all those swarming ants have beaten the bird to the fruit, and the mocker appears reluctant to snatch a bite.
While tunas are for the birds, plenty of other wildlife relishes the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. The lumbering tortoise is unable to alight on a handy perch, but this hardy denizen of the brush country is usually able to find sufficient low-hanging fruit to satisfy its hunger.
However, no creature seems to savor the tasty tunas more than the ground squirrel, and when he pauses for a moment, lifting his face from the lush fruit, he’s sporting a glistening purple countenance, sort of like a kid with a cherry snow cone or juicy raspa on a hot summer day.