Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Black-throated Sparrow on Cholla

Black-throated Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow. Anza-Borrego Desert, California. January 26, 2014. Greg Gillson.
Here is one last photo from the trip over to Anza-Borrego Desert two weeks ago. Black-throated Sparrows are my favorite sparrows. To me they represent the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and northwestern Mexico as much as Roadrunners, Phainopeplas, Verdins, Gambel's Quails, Gila Woopeckers, Curve-billed Thrashers, Cactus Wrens, palo verde, mesquite, saguaro, creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla.

This small bird is smartly patterned. The gray head has a white line over each eye and another on the lower border of the cheeks. There is a large inverted triangle of black on the throat and chest. They are invariably found on the hottest south facing desert slopes, running on the gravel ground between the sparse vegetation.

The first I saw were in Arizona as a teenager when I traveled by Grayhound from Oregon to visit my grandparents. They spent the winters camped out on the desert. I visited during spring break in high school, March 1977. Then I rode back with them to Oregon.