Today I count a mixed flock of Brewer’s, Rufous-winged, and Black-throated sparrows among the thin grasses. The usual suspects of Gila woodpeckers, cactus wrens, and curved-billed thrashers are present also. The thrashers and cactus wrens make their nests in spiny cholla (pronounced choy-a) cactus. The fruit from these cacti hang down in chains and drop to the ground to be eaten by other desert animals. When a cholla cactus dies it leaves behind a beautiful gray skeleton. This latticework trunk makes a nice addition to the yard or even as part of your interior decorating if you find a good piece. Here in nature, the birds simply use it as a perch. I’m sure for them the appeal is purely practical and they are unaware of its esthetic appeal.
It’s only a small area of land about 1 ½ acres in size. To the north if a hair salon, the east border is formed by the golf course with tall pines and other trees. On the south the Country Club frames the lot with tall eucalyptus trees and some juniper. The western border is formed by the road which has a constant stream of traffic. But, here in this little abandoned and scrubby field the birds have found refuge. I’m drawn in by the chirping, tweeting, cackling sounds. Feathered motion is everywhere. Tiny birds flit from brush to bush, cactus to cactus and tree to tree. The sparrows fly up briefly, then dart into the grasses again. I find thrashers and cactus wrens building nests. Before I am done I count Brewer’s, Rufous-winged, White-crowned, and Black-throated sparrows. I suspect there are others I can’t identify.
Birds Counted in and around the vacant lot: 1. Red-tailed hawk, 2. Mourning dove, 3. Anna’s hummingbird, 4. Costa’s hummingbird, 5. Gila Woodpecker, 6. Say’s Phoebe, 7. Chihuahuan Raven, 8. Cactus Wren, 9. Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 10. Curved-billed thrasher, 11.European Starling, 12.Yellow-rumped warbler, 13.Canyon towhee, 14.Rufous-winged sparrow, 15.Brewer’s sparrow, 16.Black-throated sparrow, 17. Lark bunting, 18.White-crowned sparrow, 19.Phrrhuloxia, 20.Great-tailed grackle, 21.Housefinch 22. Hutton’s vireo, 23. Orange-crowned warbler.