|Black-throated Sparrow, Corona de Tucson, AZ, November 30, 2008|
I saw my first Black-throated Sparrow when I moved to Tucson in 2007. At the time I lived in the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. I immediately fell in love with these subtly colored Black-throated sparrows for their beautiful looks and their silvery bell-like song and chip notes. Back then they were daily yard birds for me, since I lived in the middle of the Sonoran Desert in a natural development called Sycamore Canyon.
|Juvenile Black-throated sparrow in my Sycamore Canyon Yard, August 2009|
During breeding season I would often seen juvenile Black-throated sparrows in my yard. This one was seeking shelter from the hot desert sun in the shade of a small Sago Palm tree. While it was hiding, the parent in the photo below was scarfing down some thistle seed! Notice the streaky breast and duller coloring than the adult, but you can still see the white stripes on the face and head! At the moment there is no hint of the adult's black throat!
|Adult Black-throated Sparrow in my Sycamore Canyon backyard, August 2009|
I have seen Black-throated sparrows all year round here in the Tucson area. Both male and female Black-throated sparrows look the same.
|Bllack-throated sparrow in Saguaro National Park-Rincon Mountain Unit 11-15-2009|
|Black-throated Sparrow in Saguaro NP Rincon Mountain Unit 11-15-2009|
|Black-throated Sparrow, Saguaro NP Rincon Mountain Unit 11-15-2009|
Since first encountering this species I have seen it in various other places around Arizona. A quick look at any bird guide will tell you that this species loves the dry desert and its range is from Mexico up into Nevada, Western Utah, parts of California and Eastern New Mexico. Black-throated sparrows usually forage on the ground for food. They can be seen in pairs or small flocks, sometimes mixed with other sparrows. Though sometimes confused with the even more rare Five-striped sparrows, they are distinguished from that species (which I have never seen...yet!) by a totally black throat. The Five-striped sparrow has a white throat, a gray breast and a black central breast spot. Below are just a few of the photos I have taken of this beautiful sparrow in various locations, but I must say, the photo at the top is my all time favorite!
|Black-throated Sparrow, Greenlee County, August 1, 2010|
|Black-throated Sparrow Saguaro NP Rincon Mountain Unit, Javalina Picnic area 3-10-2013|
While I do not get Black-throated Sparrows in my current suburban yard, I have only to drive over to Saguaro National Park's Rincon Mountain Unit to find them. They are reliably found at the Javalina Picnic area, which is where all of the above Saguaro NP photos were taken. If you just sit quietly at a picnic table they will usually come right up to you! Whether sitting at a picnic table or hiking through the desert, once you know their song, you will hear it, and it will call to you, like tiny silver bells in the desert.
Black-Throated Sparrow: The Silver Song of the Desert
The silver song of the desert,
From the black throat of a bird,
A sparrow sitting in sunlight
On an arid desert morn
Perched near a cactus thorn
It’s melody floating around me,
Its presence a mystery still,
This silvery voice in the desert
Is calling me, calling me still.
~Kathie Adams Brown (June 22, 2008)
For more birds, come visit me at: Kathie's Birds
For more poetry, come visit me at Kathie's Poet Tree for National Poetry Month!