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Desert Diary


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We have a lot to be thankful for the fact that the Greater Chihuahuan Desert region includes highland areas as well as the lower-elevation desert. For one, of course, many of us, with only a short drive, can escape to cooler, greener areas during the heat of summer. But there are advantages even for the stay-at-homes.

We're all familiar, of course, with the variety of birds passing through during spring and fall migrations. The nearby mountains, however, supply non-migrants off and on. For example, Stellar's Jay, whose home lies in coniferous forests, may suddenly appear in an El Paso neighborhood, whether through wanderlust, curiosity, or hard times. The American Robin may even decide to nest in the artificial groves of Southwestern towns, forsaking the heights that are their natural breeding grounds in the Southwest.

When hard times hit in wintertime, the lowlands may expect an influx of visitors looking for relief from snow and cold. It's not just happenstance that people engaged in their annual migration to the sunny Southwest are known to one and all as snow birds.
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.