Black-throated Sparrow Greets The Sun
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Foresummer is upon us and our desert is in the grip of a merciless heat wave. June is the hottest month of the year in southern Arizona and this June is shaping up as typical. In June our skies are nearly always cloudless, the humidity drops down close to single digits, and nothing stops the heat from building. We’ve been above 100 degrees for the past several days and each day the mercury climbs a degree or two higher. By the latter part of the month we’ll no doubt be seeing 110 or even higher temperatures. Everyone is holding his or her breath, waiting and hoping for July and August’s rains.
Life in the desert adapts to the weather. Species that were active throughout the day are now active only at night, in the early morning hours, or in the hour or so before sunset. The desert is much quieter now than it was a few weeks ago and I’m seeing less and less wildlife on my walks. That will change dramatically in a few weeks if the rains are on schedule this year.
One of the more indefatigable species is the Black-throated Sparrow. These little sparrows are desert dwellers through and through. Indeed, they live only in the desert. They seem to be active when nearly everything else has gone to ground. In autumn and winter these birds are social, congregating in flocks of a dozen or more individuals. In summer, however, they separate, almost certainly to raise their families.
It’s common on a summer morning in the desert to see Black-throated Sparrows singing exuberantly. They have an extremely musical song, one that radiates cheerfulness. I photographed one of these birds singing the other day, perched among the dead flowers of an Ocotillo. The little sparrow was unfazed by the heat and seemed to be extremely pleased with itself.
I found its happiness to be contagious. Such cheerfulness put a smile on my face, despite the heat wave.
Image made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/1600.