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Nature Prospers in Avalanche Chutes

The birds and wildlife may surprise you!
© Dona Hilkey pbase.com/dhilkey View Large

Avalanches tend to follow historic channels down the face of a mountain, sweeping with them standing trees and boulders, while adjacent slopes remain clad in evergreens. Such natural snow courses are known as avalanche chutes. Soil often remains, creating a new opening for pioneering vegetation. A new zone of habitat takes form, habitat favored by diverse wildlife. In the West, the shrubby cover of avalanche chutes attracts nesting Fox Sparrows and provides ideal habitat for MacGillivray’s Warblers — like this one. Look along mountainsides for the elongated, vertical stripes that announce an avalanche chute.

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Transcript: 

BirdNote® 

Nature Prospers in Avalanche Chutes

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Roar of an avalanche]

A colossal mass of snow thunders down a mountainside, hurling above it an immense cloud of powdery snow. Avalanches tend to follow historic channels down the face of a mountain, sweeping with them standing trees and boulders, while adjacent slopes remain clad in evergreens. Such natural snow courses are known as avalanche chutes.

Despite the avalanche’s destructive power, soil often remains along the avalanche chute, creating a new opening for pioneering vegetation. [Background, songs of e.g. Swainson’s Thrushes, Varied Thrushes] Grasses and sedges take root, as well as low shrubs like huckleberry, alder, and willow. A new zone of habitat takes form, habitat favored by diverse wildlife.

Bears forage on ripe huckleberries in late summer. In the West, the shrubby cover of avalanche chutes attracts nesting Fox Sparrows, [Fox Sparrow song] and provides ideal habitat for MacGillivray’s Warblers [MacGillivray’s Warbler song]. Hermit Thrushes sing glistening notes atop tall fir trees nearby [Hermit Thrush song], then fly to the avalanche chute to forage. [Hermit Thrush song]

Look along mountainsides for the elongated, vertical stripes that announce an avalanche chute. In autumn, the low shrubs there blaze with color, vibrant accents of red and gold amid the rocky slopes and the evergreens.  [MacGillivray’s Warbler song]

Today’s show brought to you by The Bobolink Foundation.   For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Fox Sparrow song [111137] recorded by T.G. Sander; MacGillivray’s Warbler song [42249] recorded by G.A. Keller; Hermit Thrush song [137893] recorded by T.G. Sander.  Ambient from 42249. 
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler. 
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org   August 2017  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#         avalanchechute-01-2012-08-30    avalanchechute-01

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