Pulse of the Desert Plains: Tracking Grassland Birds On The Marfa Plateau

Grassland sparrows travel from North Dakota and Canada to their winter range in the Chihuahuan Desert, near Marfa.

By Dallas BaxterFebruary 19, 2018 10:27 am| , ,

From Marfa Public Radio:

It’s dawn in late January, near Marfa, and the grasslands on Mimms Ranch are radiant, swaying like a thick, golden mane in the sporadic breeze.

Across the plateau treks a 20-person team – scientists, birders and volunteers.

A pair holding radio antennas leads the way. Soon, they locate a signal. Technicians swiftly raise a net, and the rest of the group moves into formation, creating a semicircle.

Quietly, they advance, closing in on the signal’s unseen source.

Suddenly, it rises, in a flurry: a tiny grassland sparrow. The bird darts skyward, and then flies just outside the net.

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Written by Andrew Stuart/