Black-Throated Sparrow — “Aah, That’s Better!”
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Many of the images of wildlife that I post are portraits. They consist of fairly static representations of birds or other fauna sitting quietly. They’re useful in that they depict the species and my subjects can be quite pretty. But a steady diet of images of wildlife sitting around and posing can get — well — a bit boring after a while. So, I constantly search for images of my subjects doing something. I really prefer photos of wildlife engaging in behaviors that show off individual creatures’ personalities and I jump at the opportunity to post those images when I get them.
The other day I was hiking around in the desert when I came across a small flock of Black-throated Sparrows. I wasn’t all that interested in photographing them because I have a lot of images of these pretty little birds posing quietly or poking around on the ground. But, then, I noticed one bird sitting by itself perched on a low shrub. It was just sitting there at first, not participating in the foraging-feeding activities of its cohort. Curious as to what it might do next, I trained my camera on it.
And, then, it began to scratch itself vigorously. It engaged in that behavior for about 10 seconds before flying off. I took a series of photos and here’s the best of them.
I love this photo. The little sparrow seems to be deriving more than a little pleasure from attacking that itch and for a brief second, its personality is evident. I have portraits of this species that show off the birds in far greater detail than does this image, but still, this photo says a lot about how these birds live and react to their environment.
And, by the way, I think I know why this bird was scratching. Enlarge the image and look closely at the top of the sparrow’s head, and you’ll see what appears to be a cactus spine. I’m guessing that the sparrow may have been rooting around in some Prickly Pear and may have acquired a few cactus spines as a result. Trust me, those things, which can be so small as to be almost invisible, will cause one to itch if a few of them get embedded in your skin.
Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 500, f8 @ 1/1250.