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Winter in the Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands: A Photo Journal

After another winter of fieldwork down, we have managed to gain even further insights into the winter ecology of Baird’s and Grasshopper Sparrows. This season’s strong El Niño presented enormous challenges for these birds.  Imagine a small sparrow, dripping wet in near freezing temperatures, huddled in a patch of equally damp grass. In order to survive such damp and cold conditions, sparrows need to find and eat enough seeds, an activity which takes them out in the open and in clear view of predators. This predicament, combined with a high number of predators around, may explain the high levels of mortality that we observed this season.

Although studying how and why birds die can be disheartening, this data will be critical to the conservation of grassland birds. And that is why we do it!

 

Thanks to our partners and funders: Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Juárez del Estado de Durango, USFWS Neotropical Migratory Bird Act, The US Forest Service International Program, The WWF Carlos Slim Foundation and the Canadian Wildlife Service.