Texan Black-Throated Sparrows

Amphispiza bilineata

Black-Throated Sparrow is a year-round resident in the deserts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico, but some birds will travel to the Great Basin region and the Colorado Plateau to breed. Sparse desert growth, where few other birds frequent are often attractive areas to these birds.

I’ve visited some of the loneliest, seemingly barren desert landscapes imaginable. Places that appear to be devoid of animal life are the preferred home of the Black-Throated Sparrow. Listen carefully for soft tinking call notes coming from the direction of some nearby brush or thicket. Such sounds serve as a reminder that even in such harsh conditions, life is possible. With a little luck, a small conservatively dressed light-brown sparrow will come out from cover and demonstrate its subdued elegance. Only then can you observe its white-lined face and deep black bib from which it gets its name. If the meeting is in spring, when love is in the air, you’ll probably enjoy the tiny bell-like song of this spirited little bird. Having seen this bird on its home turf, I would invite you to look again at its barren homeland and consider whether you still feel the place is lonely.

Populations of these birds have declined over 40% since 1970. Drought and habitat loss due to fire-prevention and land development are believed to be leading causes of the decline. Unlike some birds, Black-Throated Sparrows have not adapted well to altered urbanized habitats.

This gallery shows only the birds I met in Texas. However, the <Species Gallery> displays forty birds I’ve met in CA, AZ, NM and TX.

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