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The Saguaro, Hub of the Sonoran Desert

There is perhaps nothing more central to the Sonoran ecology than the saguaro cactus. It is not just the most iconic symbol of our region, it also serves as a source of food and shelter for 100 different local species. In fact, the saguaro is so vital to the ecosystem that it has earned the title of a keystone species—the fate of the Sonoran Desert is forever linked to the fate of the saguaro cactus. If the saguaro were gone, the effects on the ecosystem would be devastating.

Tucson Audubon Society recognizes the saguaro’s position as the hub of the ecological network that is the Sonoran Desert. We have also seen how precarious its position can be: The wildfires that ravaged the Coronado and Tonto National Forests in recent years destroyed countless saguaros, threatening the insects, mammals, and birds that rely on them. We’re working with many partners to re-establish saguaros both post-burn and to help them colonize areas projected to become viable saguaro habitat into the future.

Our saguaro population is at risk. But together we can make an impact.

With your help, we are undertaking a massive, 3-year effort to replant 14,000 saguaros. Our team is microtargeting the precise optimal locations for the new plants. We will ensure that the seedlings are protected from the harsh sun and hungry animals until they are big and strong enough to defend themselves.

How can I get involved?

There are several ways you can support and join in the work we’re doing.

Join Tucson Audubon

When you become a member of Tucson Audubon you support all of the work we do to inspire people to enjoy and protect the special birds of Southeast Arizona. If you join today, you’ll start to receive the Vermilion Flycatcher member magazine. Our Winter 2023 issue focused on the importance of saguaros to birds and other wildlife, and all the work we do to protect them. Join now.

Sponsor a Saguaro Hotel

A single mature saguaro can serve as luxury high-rise accommodation, restaurant, and rest stop for 32 species of birds and also provides a place for roosting, perching, mate seeking, and nesting! Your support can help keep an old-growth saguaro safe and open for bird business.

Adopt a Saguaro Seedling

Rally your friends and family in support of one of our new seedlings. When you create a fundraising page, we’ll send you the location of the seedling that you’ve adopted. Ask your social circle to help you reach whatever goal you set to protect a newly planted saguaro.

Read a Saguaro Story

Many people in the community are excited about our giant cactus friends. Read the stories and find out how saguaros inspire us.

Volunteer to help plant

If you don’t mind kneeling on the ground and getting your hands dirty, we need you! We are scheduling many planting days over the course of this three-year project. The first of these planting days were held in March 2023 and continue. Please contact Aya Pickett,, for specific opportunities, for both individuals and groups.

Spread the Word

Protecting our saguaro population isn’t something we can do alone. The more people who know about our work, the more we’ll be able to enhance and expand the vital habitat that saguaros represent. Share our stories on social media and beyond.