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Seasonal Flooding of the Amazon

A lush world, with immense biodiversity...

When it’s predictable and wildlife is well adapted, natural flooding can create a biological bonanza. In the Amazon River Basin, which holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, annual rains can raise water levels 30 to 40 feet in just days. Forests turn into vast lakes, dotted with trees, while a massive push of sediment erects new islands almost overnight. It’s a lush world that’s home to some of the world’s most iconic birds, including toucans, macaws, kingfishers, tiger-herons, and this Russet-backed Oropendola.

BirdNote is traveling to the Amazon in January 2017. Will you join us? Learn more.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

When the Amazon Floods

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
[Russet-backed Oropendola song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/60723, 0.13-.18]
To us humans, flooding can often seem like an unmitigated catastrophe. In the right circumstances, though, when it’s predictable and wildlife is well adapted, flooding can create a biological bonanza.
In the Amazon River Basin, annual heavy rains can raise water levels 30 to 40 feet in just days. The basin is almost flat, sloping just one inch per mile over its eastward flow to the Atlantic, a journey of some 2,000 miles. So when the rain arrives, forests flood, and a massive push of sediment erects new islands almost overnight.
It’s a lush world that scientists and nature travelers explore by boat, where some of the world’s most iconic birds find fruit in the trees or perch at the water’s edge.  [Chestnut-fronted Macaw call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/68380, 0.06-.08] Toucans and macaws, tiny pygmy kingfishers, tiger-herons, and massive Ringed Kingfishers. [Ringed Kingfisher call, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/211555, 0.10-.12]  Oropendolas [Pronunciation: or-oh-PEN-duh-luhz] sing a startling refrain.
        [Russet-backed Oropendola song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/60723, 0.13-.18]
These birds are part of the richest array of life on earth, an extraordinary mosaic of habitats, all intricately linked. And all dependent on the river system that holds 1/5 of all the world’s fresh water.
        [Russet-backed Oropendola song http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/60723, 0.13-.18]
BirdNote is traveling to the Amazon in January 2017. Will you join us? Learn more and sign up at BirdNote.org.
###
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 60723 and 68380 recorded by Paul A Schwartz. 211555 recorded by Gregory F Budney.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org   October 2016   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#      amazon-02-2016-10-04    amazon-02          

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