HARLINGEN, Texas (Center of the Valley) – Native fruit plants are scarce during the winter in South Texas, but tasajillo berry is a delicacy.
A winter treat of choice for birds and other chaparral dwellers are the bright red fruits of tasajillo. The tasajillo is sometimes referred to as the Christmas cactus for its propensity to fruit during the holiday season.
This Christmas bonus is particularly appreciated by the mockingbird, who easily picks the ripe fruits of the thorny tasajillo.
Some people call the tasajillo a jumping cactus, because if you are unlucky to rub against it, the thorny branches will easily attach to your clothes or bare skin.
Despite the abundance of tasajillo berries, the Mockingbird is not inclined to share its bounty and keeps a watchful eye on any other bird that might want to taste a tasty fruit. From its high perch in the tasajillo, the mockingbird stands guard over its edible treasure.
When a cardinal lands to inspect the berries, the Vigilant Mockingbird quickly routs the intruder.
However, the golden-fronted woodpecker is more than a match for the fiery mockingbird who doesn’t seem willing to confront the intruder. Or maybe the mockingbird thinks the woodpecker is only interested in breaking through an old branch near the tasajillo, but the woodpecker suddenly tears off a bay just below the mockingbird’s lookout post.
The good news is that there are plenty of tasajillo berries available and eventually the Cardinals and Pyrrhuloxia all manage to get a meal.