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From a bird's perspective, the Dry Tortugas, a cluster of islands in the Gulf of Mexico, can be a life-saver. Millions of migratory songbirds fly north across the Gulf and Caribbean each spring, headed for North America. If they run into heavy wind and rain blowing down from the continent, the Dry Tortugas provide their first landfall. In a storm, thousands of storm-tossed birds – warblers, thrushes, cuckoos, and others – seek shelter on the Dry Tortugas. No doubt that this Blackpoll Warbler was happy to touch down here!
The Dry Tortugas Archipelago
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
You might think that Key West is at the very tip of Florida. But not quite.
Another 70 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico lies a cluster of tiny islands known as the Dry Tortugas. [Ocean waves] Low, sparsely vegetated, and devoid of fresh water, the seven islands add up to less than a quarter square mile of land.
For birds, these specks of land are vital. Millions of migratory songbirds fly north across the Gulf and Caribbean each spring, headed for North America. If they run into the heavy wind and rain of a “Norther” blowing down from the continent, the Dry Tortugas provide a safe haven. [Heavy wind and rain] Thousands of storm-tossed birds – warblers, thrushes, cuckoos, and others – will seek shelter on the islands. [The storm sounds]
And migrants aren’t the only birds to touch down here. The islands also host more than 85,000 nesting seabirds, many of them Sooty Terns.
[Sooty Tern calls]
So for many birds, this miniature archipelago is a life-giver as well as a lifesaver.
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Support for BirdNote is provided by Sarah Merner and Craig McKibben from Seattle, Washington, and generous listeners around the world.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Colony of Sooty Terns in Dry Tortugas, 136236, recorded by M.J. Fischer; Ocean waves from Gulf of Mexico by Kessler Productions.
BirdNote’s theme composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler; Managing Producer: Jason Saul; Editor: Ashley Ahearn; Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone; Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill.
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org April 2014/2019/2021 / June 2023 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# archipelago-01b-2021-4-19 archipelago-01b