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

BirdNote: When the Amazon Floods

Air Date: Week of

A Scarlet Macaw. (Photo: Tom Conger)

Floods can be devastating and destructive, but in the Amazon, as Mary McCann notes, annual floods are vital for many exotic bird species.



CURWOOD: Floods can devastate the built environment. But as Mary McCann explains in today's BirdNote®, for the vast Amazon rain forest and its creatures, flooding is a different experience.


[Russet-backed Oropendola song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/60723, 0.13-.18]

MCCANN: To us humans, flooding can often seem like an unmitigated catastrophe. In the right circumstances, though, when it’s predictable and wildlife is well adapted, flooding can create a biological bonanza.

In the Amazon River Basin, annual heavy rains can raise water levels 30 to 40 feet in just days. The basin is almost flat, sloping just one inch per mile over its eastward flow to the Atlantic, a journey of some 2,000 miles. So, when the rain arrives, forests flood, and a massive push of sediment erects new islands almost overnight.

It’s a lush world that scientists and nature travelers explore by boat, where some of the world’s most iconic birds find fruit in the trees or perch at the water’s edge.

[Chestnut-fronted Macaw call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/68380, 0.06-.08]

Toucans and macaws, tiny pygmy kingfishers, tiger-herons, and massive ringed kingfishers.

A Russet-backed Oropendola. (Photo: Tom Grey)

[Ringed Kingfisher call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/211555, 0.10-.12]

Oropendolas sing a startling refrain.

[Russet-backed Oropendola song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/60723, 0.13-.18]

These birds are part of the richest array of life on earth, an extraordinary mosaic of habitats, all intricately linked. And all dependent on the river system that holds one-fifth of all the world’s fresh water.
I’m Mary McCann.

[Russet-backed Oropendola song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/60723, 0.13-.18]


Written by Bob Sundstrom
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 60723 and 68380 recorded by Paul A Schwartz. 211555 recorded by Gregory F Budney.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org October 2016 Narrator: Mary McCann


CURWOOD: Swoop on over to our website, loe dot org, for some pictures.



Russet-backed Oropendola’s song

Chestnut-fronted Macaw call

Ringed Kingfisher call


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