Desert Birds

March 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm (Bird photography, Birds - California, California, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildlife)

The black-throated sparrow is my favorite sparrow, and the first place I ever saw one was at Big Bend National Park, Texas. They are also common in Southern California, too.

This one’s bushy “eyebrows” look quote comical.

The males often perched on cholla spines to make themselves and their songs more obvious to potential mates. I don’t know how their little feet didn’t get poked.

Several years ago I had photographed them in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s Mine Wash, along with some blooming cactus. I went back in early March and the cactus had yet to perform, but the sparrows were in full force.

Phainopepla male

The phainopepla eats mistletoe berries. In Big Bend it was juniper mistletoe. In areas of California where oak trees grow, it’s the oak mistletoe. I even have a pair that visits my yard in Paso Robles now and then, and presumably they have found mistletoe nearby.

Gambel’s Quail

The male Gambel’s quail is just as handsome as its cousin the California quail, the latter of which is found in western California up through the Pacific Northwest. This bird and the rest in this post were at Joshua Tree National Park.

The Gambel’s quail prefers the arid regions of the Southwest and Southern California.

The California scrub jay isn’t exclusively a desert denizen. I also have them in my yard, but they are quite handsome.

California thrasher

Although I was in the desert for the wildflower bloom, I was surprised there wasn’t much bird activity in the places I visited. However, another winged creature was almost an invasion – the painted lady butterfly.

Many people mistook them for monarchs, which migrate in large numbers, but honestly, they don’t look a thing like monarchs. There were hundreds of thousands of them, moving fast to whatever destination their little hearts desired. Unfortunately, many of them wound up as yellow splats on windshields and fenders. I’m wondering which plants their caterpillars will be eating when they all hatch. The wildflowers should be finished blooming by then, I hope!

Male phainopepla

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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