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Southwest

Birds Winter at the Salton Sea

California's Salton Sea is hot and smelly - and it's also a Mecca for thousands of wintering birds. This inland sea formed when the Colorado River breached floodgates in 1905, forming a lake 45 miles long. The lake has diminished in size and greatly increased in salt concentration, but a single... read more »

Elegant Trogon

The Ramsey Canyon Preserve in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona is famous for the clouds of hummingbirds that swarm around its feeders in late summer. But the rare and spectacular Elegant Trogon is also found here. A native of Mexico and Central America, it breeds in the United States only in a... read more »

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Ponderosa Pine Savanna

In a Western ponderosa pine savanna, tall pines dot an open, grassy landscape. A Western Bluebird flits from a gnarly branch, as this Cassin's Finch belts out a rapid song. The trees here grow singly or in small stands. Upslope, the pines become denser, mixing with firs. Downhill, the trees give... read more »

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Black-throated Sparrow Sings in the Desert

The Black-throated Sparrow thrives in the open, arid habitats of the American Southwest. Nature maintains such native landscapes with frequent but relatively cool-burning fires. But decades of fire suppression have altered nature's pattern, setting the stage for hotter, more destructive fires.... read more »

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Walk Down an Arroyo

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. There's a remarkable diversity of wildlife here, including this Pyrrhuloxia. Birds here are most... read more »

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Terry Tempest Williams Reads from Refuge

Author Terry Tempest Williams, having lost her mother to cancer, begins to mend in the company of birds and nature. Here is a paraphrase from Terry's book, Refuge: There is a holy place in the salt desert, where egrets hover like angels. It is a cave near the lake where water bubbles up from... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Making a Home Among the Saguaros

In the arid Arizona desert, where cacti thrive but trees are scarce, the Gila Woodpecker and this Gilded Flicker carve out nest cavities in living saguaros. Tall, old saguaros may be pocked with twenty or more nest holes, bearing witness to decades of woodpecker families. The woodpeckers excavate... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Southbound Swainson's Hawks

At 9,000 feet in the Manzano Range in New Mexico, HawkWatch International counts and bands raptors making their way south along the Rocky Mountain front. Some, like this Swainson's Hawk, fly all the way to the pampas of Argentina. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Condor #23 and Lead

California Condor #23 is the hero of the California Condor Restoration Project. The project has worked for 30 years to reintroduce captive-bred condors into the wild. Number 23 and his mate were the first released condors to successfully raise a chick on their own. Yet today, #23 sits alone. Two... read more »

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Condor Release - Interview with Eddie Feltes

In late September 2011, three California Condors were released near the Grand Canyon. Eddie Feltes of The Condor Recovery Project says: "We open up the gates from a blind and watch those birds take to the sky." The first few days are the most crucial in the birds' life, because they've never... read more »

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