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Ponderosa Pine Savanna

After a natural wildfire, grass, wildflowers, and birds flourish!

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 way to an open grassland. The open structure of this savanna, found on mountain slopes from the Rockies to the Cascades, results from recurring natural fires. Fast-moving blazes sweep through, burning the low vegetation but sparing the larger trees, which are protected by very thick bark. After a fire, grass and wildflowers re-grow quickly.

Support for BirdNote comes from American Bird Conservancy, announcing Bringing Back the Birds, a new book exploring migration and preserving birdscapes in the Americas, with photos by Owen Deutsch.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Ponderosa Pine Savanna

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Western Meadowlark song]

We’re in a Ponderosa pine savanna.

[Western Meadowlark song]

Tall pines with bark the reddish-brown of terra cotta dot an open, grassy landscape flecked with blue and yellow wildflowers. The warm air is fragrant with the spicy scent of resin. Dry pine needles crunch beneath your feet.

[W. Bluebird calls]

A Western Bluebird flits from a gnarly branch, as a Cassin’s Finch belts out a rapid song.

[Cassin’s Finch song]

The trees here grow singly or in small stands, making it easy to walk through and admire this Western landscape. Upslope, the pines become denser, mixing with firs. Downhill, the trees give way to an open grassland, where a Western Meadowlark sings.

[Western Meadowlark song]

The open structure of this savanna, found on mountain slopes from the Rockies to the Cascades, results from recurring natural fires. Fast-moving blazes sweep through, burning the low vegetation but sparing the larger trees, which are protected by very thick bark.

After a fire, grass and wildflowers re-grow quickly, helping ensure that the meadowlark’s song will continue to ring across the hillside.

[Western Meadowlark song]

Today’s show brought to you by Forterra, saving the places that are keystones of a sustainable future in the Pacific Northwest. For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.

###

Sounds of the birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Western Meadowlark: 23045 recorded by W.R. Fish; 106608 by R.S. Little and 137513 by G. Vyn; Western Bluebird 44896 by G.A. Keller; Cassin’s Finch 50197 and Pygmy Nuthatch 119403 by G.A.Keller.  
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2005-2017 Tune In to Nature.org     May 2017/2019   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#         savanna-01-2012-05-11  savanna-01


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