Southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico lie in an incredible biological crossroads. Here a small archipelago of mountain ranges lie between the Rocky Mountains of the US and the Sierra Madre of Mexico. The area also divides the Sonoran Desert to the west from the Chihuahuan Desert to the east. Components of all four ecosystems can be found here, creating an incredible amount of biodiversity in both plants and animals. Each mountain range is different, reflecting its position relative to the major biomes – those closer to the border have more Mexican species, those further north have more Rocky Mountain species, and the same with the east-west orientation and the distribution of the desert species. Below you can play samples of the tracks, purchase individual full-length tracks or the entire album, and read more about each recording.
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Chiricahua Dawn (16:23)
The Chiricahuas are one of the larger mountain ranges in the Madrean Archipelago. It has also suffered some very large wildfires in the past couple of decades, include one just a few years ago. Although many of the large Douglas-fir trees were killed by the fire, many of the oak trees are resprouting. This recording features a number of Mexican species of birds that barely cross into the US to breed, including Mexican Whip-poor-wills, Mexican jays, Gould’s Turkeys, and Red-faced Warblers. If you listen closely, you can hear the dawn chorus change as the night callers go quiet and the late-rising birds join the chorus.
Recorded in the Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona, on May 20, 2013.
Where the Gray Hawk flies (6:07)
Gray Hawks are another bird that just crosses the border into Arizona. Just south of Tucson, the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area protects a large swatch of riparian habitat along Cienega Creek as well as the surrounding grassland. Several Gray Hawks nest in the tall cottonwoods along the creek, adding their mournful cries to the chorus of other birds that use riparian habitats.
Recorded at Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, Arizona, on May 30, 2013.
San Pedro River – spring (16:23)
The San Pedro River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the US. Just north of its headwaters in Mexico, its banks in the US are protected within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Following recovery from overgrazing, the riparian corridor is now a lovely cottonwood-willow gallery forest, and provides important breeding habitat for many birds and mammals, as well as important stopover habitat for migrating birds. Although beavers have been reintroduced, other impacts seriously threaten the river, primarily subdivision development that uses too much groundwater. In addition, the soundscape has been seriously compromised by military and border protection overflights.
Recorded near Fairbank, Arizona, on April 12, 2013.
Sandhill Cranes (9:48)
Southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico are some of the wintering areas for Greater and Lesser Sandhill Cranes. They usually show up in the thousands in October and stay until February or March. They create quite a sight (and sound) as thousands of them lift off at dawn every morning for a few hours at their feeding grounds. They return to their loafing ponds in mid-morning. In this recording, several birds already loafing start calling to an approaching group – who answer and call back and forth as they come in for a landing.
Recorded near Willcox, Arizona, on December 12, 2012.
August at Mattie Spring (7:12)
Another recording from Las Cienegas. This time in mid-August and the middle of monsoon season. Bewick’s Wrens, Northern Flickers, Common Yellowthroats, White-winged Doves are just a few of the species that can be heard calling here.
Recorded at Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, Arizona, on August 16, 2013.
Early spring in the Huachucas (11:40)
By March in the Sonoran Desert, springtime is well underway, with flowers blooming and birds singing like crazy. But spring arrives later in the mountains. On a windy day in late March, high in the pines in the Huachuca Mountains, Mearn’s quail give their descending trill, while Stellar’s Jays scold. Later, a couple of ravens call while flying over, and White-breasted Nuthatches twitter through the trees. Near the end, the Stellar’s Jays begin giving their mock Red-tailed Hawk call.
Recorded in the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona, on March 29, 2013.
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