In the desert this morning I was greeted by the sounds of tinkling bells. The silver sound was all around me, the desert sounding like a small bell choir. I have heard this sound before but have not seen which bird makes it. As I stroll along looking for the source, I spy the silhouette of a small bird on a bare mesquite branch. Raising my binoculars I focus in on a black-throated sparrow. His white breast is toward me, his head raised in song, his black throat fluttering with the liquid notes. The air is filled with the sound of a small silver bell, a soft tinkling sound, yet loud enough to carry across the cactus-covered hillside. A blazing sun warms the earth around us but he just keeps on singing to the morning and to me.
As I continue farther down the trail the sparrow flies away. The once dirt path is now covered in a soft green down of grass, the result of the recent rains. A large barrel cactus is bloated into a spine-covered ball beside the path, the top of which sports a crown of orange buds. One of the buds is alreadying opening. Soon the rest will follow in a fiery display. Some of the cholla cacti are blossoming again also. Their blooms are a soft lavender color offset by the pale green of the plant. Though it is still early morning, the heat is quickly building. We shall reach 100 degrees or more again today. Gone are last week's gray skies and humidity, but the evidence of the rains are all around me. The Monsoon has brought life to the desert once again. Perhaps that is what the black-throated sparrow is singing about with its silvery voice in the desert sun.