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BirdNote®: Walk Down an Arroyo

Air Date: Week of

A Pyrrhuloxia, feathered in grey with red highlights, sits atop a cactus. (Photo: Billy Liar, CC)

Dry, sandy creek beds, called arroyos, are a refuge for an abundance of birds in the Southwest. In today’s BirdNote®,Mary McCann takes a tuneful stroll through this desert habitat.


CURWOOD: Let’s head to the dry sunny southwest of the US now. As Mary McCann explains in today’s BirdNote, a warm morning there brings out an abundance of eager songsters.

[Greater Roadrunner song]

MCCANN: Have you ever heard a Roadrunner sing? That’s the maker of this cooing sound.

[Greater Roadrunner song]

MCCANN: Want to hear more sounds of the desert Southwest?

[Someone walking along a sandy path]

MCCANN: Come along, as we walk along an arroyo, a dry, sandy creek bed. Arroyo means “stream” in Spanish. With mesquite, yucca, and cactus along their edges, arroyos in the Southwest fill with water only a few times a year, mostly during the heavy rains of late summer. Despite the arroyo’s lack of water at the moment, there’s a remarkable diversity of wildlife here.

[Northern Beardless Tyrannulet song]

MCCANN: That’s a Northern Beardless Tyrannulet singing, a tiny flycatcher with a very distinctive voice.

[Northern Beardless Tyrannulet song]

The Greater Roadrunner is just one of many fascinating birds found in the deserts of the Southwestern United States. (Photo: SearchNet Media, CC)

MCCANN: And there’s a Pyrrhuloxia singing from atop a yucca.

[Pyrrhuloxia song]

MCCANN: The Pyrrhuloxia looks a lot like a cardinal, except it’s feathered in silvery gray, with magenta highlights.

[Pyrrhuloxia song]

MCCANN: Birds here are most active in the morning, except those that are nighttime specialists.

[Call of Lesser Nighthawk]

MCCANN: Just after sunset, we’d hear the drawn-out trill of a Lesser Nighthawk.

[Lesser Nighthawk]

MCCANN: And a cousin of the nighthawk, a Buff-collared Nightjar, might begin to call.

[Buff-collared Nightjar calls].

The sounds of life in an arroyo are magical, day and night. I’m Mary McCann.
[Written by Bob Sundstrom Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Greater Roadrunner song recorded by A.A. Allen; song of Northern Beardless Tyrannulet 40558 and song of Pyrrhuloxia 40568 by G.A. Keller; call of Lesser Nighthawk 118627 by G.A. Keller; Buff-collared Nightjar 40510 by G.A. Keller. Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson © 2018 Tune In to Nature.org April 2018 Narrator: Mary McCann]

[MUSIC: R. Carlos Nakai, “Song for the Morning Star” on Canyon Trilogy, Canyon Records]
CURWOOD: Saunter on over to our website, loe dot org, for photos and more.



This story on the BirdNote® website

Read more about the Pyrrhuloxia at All About Birds

Read more about the Greater Roadrunner at All About Birds

Read more about the Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet in the Audubon Field Guide

Read more about the Lesser Nighthawk in the Audubon Field Guide

Read more about the Buff-Collared Nightjar at Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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