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Basalt as Shelter

How Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches spend the winter

As the winter sun sinks over the Coulee Lakes, hundreds of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches suddenly appear, an undulating cloud that swarms into the upper levels of the basalt cliffs. The finches nest high in the mountains in summer, and roam the countryside in large flocks in winter. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches roost for the night in a colony of abandoned swallow nests on basalt cliffs. Watch a video of a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch foraging.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Basalt Cliffs Shelter Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote!
It is late afternoon on a winter day along Washington’s Coulee Lakes. Towering basalt faces glow ochre-brown in the slanting light of the low sun. Waterfowl crowd the lakes, but few birds perch along the stony barricades. A Golden Eagle watches from atop the cliff as a Common Raven glides by, its call reverberating off the rock face.
[Common Raven calling]
As the sun sinks lower, a flock of hundreds of songbirds suddenly appears, an undulating cloud that swarms into the upper levels of the rimrock.
[Rosy-Finches calling]
They are Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, coming to roost for the night in an extensive colony of abandoned Cliff Swallow nests. The nests, neatly constructed mud jugs with slender openings, offer shelter from freezing nighttime temperatures. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches nest high in the mountains in summer, and roam the countryside in large flocks in winter, in search of weed seeds and waste grain. These veterans of the cold mountains appreciate the snug night-roost of a Cliff Swallow’s nest, left behind like a time-share condo by the swallows now warming themselves in Mexico.
Once again, the calls of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches….
[Calls of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches]
You’ll find four seasons of birds in the latest “Birds of BirdNote” calendar.  It’s available when you come to our website BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein.
###
Calls of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Common Raven recorded by R.S. Little; Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch by “Old PWFG.”
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org      November 2016     Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#120705basaltKPLU                    GCRF-01b-2009-11-21-MS


 

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