Monday, November 30, 2009

My World: Silver Bells in the Desert

Black-throated sparrow 11-15-09 Saguaro NP

This past summer I modified my bird feeding to discourage the presence of pigeons in my yard. I quit feeding sunflower seeds or any type of mixed seeds. I also quit putting out quail blocks. Instead I kept two thistle or nyjar seed feeders full as well as a peanut feeder, which attracts the woodpeckers and cactus wrens along with a few house finches willing to work that hard to dislodge a seed. While it cut down on the number of birds I was seeing, it also attracted the more desirable birds, such as lesser goldfinches and in the winter, pine siskins. So, it was an utter surprise and delight one day when I noticed a family of black-throated sparrows hanging around beneath the thistle seed feeder.



Black-throated sparrow in my yard 8-7-09

At first the parent bird would grab a tiny black seed in its beak, then it would put it into the mouth of the juvenile. Next I was totally surprised when the black-throated sparrow hopped up on said feeder and proceeded to pull out the seed for itself. I have now seen this behavior several times and it always surprises and delights me.


Juvenile black-throated sparrow escapes the heat in my back yard 8-7-09

These sweet black-throated sparrows are native to AZ and I saw my first one at Picacho Peak over 3 years ago. I always thought of them as wild desert birds singing their silver song in the desert. I had no idea that they would not only come into my yard but that they would eat from my feeders. This is just one more pleasure in my new desert life. Not only do I have Black-throated Sparrows in my yard, but I also have the chicks. You can tell the juvenile from the parent by the lack of the black throat which is replaced by streaks instead. The sexes are identical, so I don’t know who is who in that regard, but it doesn’t matter. These tiny birds are a bit smaller than house finches and house sparrows and I wish you could hear their silvery sounds they make as they bustle about in their daily lives. It sounds like tiny silver bells tinkling. The writer of that Christmas song had it wrong…

Top view of Black-throated sparrow 11-15-09 Saguaro NP

“Silver bells…silver bells…it’s Christmastime in the desert…ting-a-ling, hear them ring…soon it will be Christmas Day!

And that's MY World Tuesday!

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15 comments:

bobbie said...

It must be a delight to watch and hear these little birds.

Arija said...

Kathie, these are a delight. I would very much like to hear them sing. I envy Celeste her half day withyu. I would never let you get away with just a half day. Just to breathe in the beauty of the world around you at your side would be a great joy to me my dear friend.

Deborah Godin said...

Just charming, Kathie - love the bird and your joy in seeing/hearing it!

Carolyn Ford said...

Oh..how I love those who delight in the beauty of birds and their sweet sounds! These are beautiful desert creatures to be cherished!

fourwindsphotojournal said...

These are new to me. I meant to tell you last week how pretty they were, but that was I time I couldn't get the comments to work.

Roy said...

Great markings on that bird Kathie.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Such handsome little bids! I saw a few in Phoenix several years ago.

Ruth said...

I just looked up their song on the Cornell site here and they do make a sound like little bells. What a pretty looking bird.

denapple said...

What cuties! I miss Arizona already.

Wren said...

How wonderful, Kathie. They are delightful little birds and you captured them beautifully.

Gaelyn said...

Now that I'm back in the RV by my bird feeders I'll have to try thistle seed and see if something new flies in.
That black throated sparrow is adorable.

eileeninmd said...

It is a cute bird and your photos are wonderful.

Celeste said...

What a little sweetie. Kathie you have given me (yet another) reason to come back and visit again :) As if I needed one!

storyteller said...

What wonderful bird photos! Love the perspectives and the shadows ;-)
Hugs and blessings,
Small Reflections

Mary said...

That Black Throated Sparrow is beautiful! I'd love to see one of those!