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Dry Tortugas Archipelago
© Jay Bass
From a bird's perspective, the Dry Tortugas in the Gulf of Mexico can be a life-saver. Millions of migratory songbirds fly north across the Gulf and Caribbean each spring, headed for North America. If they run into heavy wind and rain blowing down from the continent, the Dry Tortugas provide their first landfall. In a storm, thousands of storm-tossed birds – warblers, thrushes, cuckoos, and others – seek shelter on the Dry Tortugas. No doubt that this Blackpoll Warbler was happy to touch down here!
The Dry Tortugas Archipelago
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Sound of a car in motion, then coming to a stop]
Traveling down the Florida Keys, you might think when arriving at Key West that you’ve finally reached the very tip of Florida. Not quite.
For out in the Gulf of Mexico another 70 miles, lies a cluster of islets known as the Dry Tortugas. [Ocean waves] Low, sparsely vegetated, and wholly lacking in fresh water, the seven tiny islands add up to less than a quarter square mile of land. How significant can these tiny dots on a map be?
From a bird’s perspective, highly significant. Millions of migratory songbirds fly north across the Gulf and Caribbean each spring, headed for North America. If they run into the heavy wind and rain of a “Norther” blowing down from the continent, the Dry Tortugas provide their first landfall. [Heavy wind and rain] In a storm, thousands of storm-tossed birds – warblers, thrushes, cuckoos, and others – seek shelter on the Dry Tortugas. [The storm sounds]
[Today, the tiny islands and a broad expanse of surrounding waters comprise the Dry Tortugas National Park.] And migrants aren’t the only birds to touch down here. The islands also host more than 85,000 nesting seabirds, many of them Sooty Terns.
[Sooty Tern calls]
So for many birds, this miniature archipelago is a life-giver as well as a life-saver.
[End with the sound of the Sooty Terns]
Today’s show brought to you by The Bobolink Foundation. For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Colony of Sooty Terns in Dry Tortugas, 136236, recorded by M.J. Fischer;
Car ambient and ocean waves from Gulf of Mexico by Kessler Productions.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org April 2012 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# archipelago-01-2012-04-15 archipelago-01