We were on our way to Death Valley last week in the middle of the Bombogenesis storm, and indeed the constantly falling rain caused us to get creative in our selection of stopping places. Even though it was closed for the season, the visitor center at Red Rock Canyon State Park had a narrow porch where we could talk without getting rained on, so we gathered there to catch up on our notes. As I finished up, a pair of unfamiliar birds landed on the Joshua Tree next to where we were talking. It was a Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus), a bird I've seen only a handful of times, since I live north of their normal range. The last time I got pictures was during our southwest trip a few years back. These were a lot closer and sharper.
The Cactus Wren is a denizen of the southwest deserts and Mexico. It is well-adapted to dry conditions, rarely needing to drink water, since it gets the moisture it needs from its diet of insects and fruits. It is not considered endangered, but its numbers declined by around 55% in the last fifty years.