• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote: Sparrow Sing In Arizona Monsoon

Air Date: Week of

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

A Cassin’s sparrow perched on a cactus. (Photo: Bill Bouton)

The hot, dry early summer months in the desert Southwest usually give way in July to the intense rains of the monsoon season. And as BirdNote®’s Michael Stein reports, this reprieve from the searing drought gripping the Southwest can bring life back to the desert as some sparrows take the rain as a cue to begin their courtship songs.

Transcript

KAISER: It’s Living on Earth. I’m Jaime Kaiser.
CURWOOD: And I’m Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC: BIRD NOTE THEME]

CURWOOD: The desert Southwest is in the midst of an extreme drought. The tinder-dry conditions have prompted rare national forest closures in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona to reduce the risk of someone sparking a devastating forest fire. And as BirdNote’s Michael Stein tells us, even some desert birds hold back their sweet songs of courtship as long as the land remains bone-dry.

BirdNote®
Sparrows Sing in the Arizona Monsoon

[Arizona desert summer soundscape just before the thunderstorm]
STEIN: In July in Southeast Arizona, midday temperatures soar above 100 degrees. A cicada’s high-pitched whine adds an edge to the searing heat.
[Intense whine of cicadas in Arizona desert heat]
But relief is coming. [Lightning and thunder]
The monsoon season begins. Winds from the south draw tropical moisture northward into the Sonoran Desert. Moist air colliding with intense heat and mountainous terrain breeds epic thunderstorms.
[Continue thunderstorm fading to rain and aftermath]
Rainfall rejuvenates the arid land. Grass grows lush, wildflowers spring forth, gullies once dusty now rush with water.
[Rushing rain water]


A rufous-winged sparrow. (Photo: Patty Bruno)

And birds sing. [Cassin’s Sparrow song] Cassin’s Sparrows have waited for the late summer rains to begin their courtship. Now the males sing their plaintive phrases almost nonstop. [Cassin’s Sparrow song] Botteri’s Sparrows add their distinctive sputters and trills. And a Rufous-winged Sparrow voices its gentle melody. [Rufous-winged Sparrow song]
[Thunderstorm and rain]
The summer monsoon refreshes the desert world like a second spring.
[Cassin’s Sparrow song]
I'm Michael Stein.

###

Written by Bob Sundstrom
Desert thunder birds + high-pitched whine of insects + rainy desert thunder recorded by Gordon Hempton of QuietPlanet.com. Also, sounds from Hempton’s Essentials – thunder #7 and rain storm aftermath #15.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song of Cassin’s Sparrow [50231] recorded G.A. Keller; Song of Botteri’s Sparrow [112634] recorded by C.A.Marantz; Rufous-winged Sparrow [112637] recorded by C.A. Marantz.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2018 Tune In to Nature.org Narrator: Michael Stein

http://birdnote.org/show/sparrows-sing-arizona-monsoon

CURWOOD: For pictures and more about the Cassin’s Sparrow, go to our website, LOE.org.

 

Links

About the Cassin’s Sparrow

About the Botteri’s Sparrow

About the Rufous-winged Sparrow

Watch a Cassin’s Sparrow exhibit “skylarking” behavior

The status of Arizona’s drought

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth