Friday, March 30, 2018

Birds of the Desert: Black-throated Sparrow

A bird of the arid southwest, the Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata) is a fairly common inhabitant of desert scrub.  As Eric and I prepare for our annual springtime pilgrimage south to scope out desert wildflowers and birds, it seems only fitting to review a species we are likely to encounter!  (The following photos were all taken in 2016 at Joshua Tree National Park.)  

Unlike some birds, the Black-throated Sparrow doesn't seem to have adapted well to suburban environments.  As a result, numbers may be decreasing in areas where development and suburban sprawl are eating up large chunks of desert wilderness. 

The diet of the Black-throated Sparrow consists largely of seeds, though they consume more insects during the summer months (which also contributes to their water intake).  These striking little birds forage on the ground, but like many birds, the males perch conspicuously and sing to defend their territory (as the fellow in these photos was doing), especially during the breeding season.

Now... it's time to pack up the tent and all those field guides, and head for the desert!!

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