I have been thoroughly enjoying our summer monsoon rains. I find myself being somewhat envious of other parts of town that seem to be getting more rain than we are at our home. There have been many times when I have seen how dark the sky is to the east of us, and I just know we’re going to get a good soaking, only to see the storm move north and west of us!
Monsoon storm cells can produce heavy rainfall totals in very short time periods, yet we really haven’t experienced that in our neighborhood. The most amount of rain we’ve received in one storm this summer is eight-tenths of an inch, and that was back in June. Most of the storms we’ve had at our home have been between two- and five-tenths of an inch.
However, I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Frequent, small amounts of rainfall are fantastic! Our yard has been totally transformed by our recent rains. We went from excessive heat and months of no precipitation to both frequent and abundant storms throughout the quad city area, with pleasant day-time temperatures.
As I spend time in nature, it is obvious that our rains have been wide-spread. All of nature seems to have benefited by our monsoons. The expression, “Water is Life” is easy to witness when you live in a high elevation desert. The whole landscape has been transformed—virtually overnight—by the onset of our monsoon rains.
Our abundant rains have had an impact on all aspects of nature, both flora and fauna. With our rains, nature has produced an abundance of forbs, grasses and wildflowers that will produce a profusion of seeds for our fall and winter birds. This is in stark contrast to last year when our abysmal monsoon season did not have the impact of producing food sources for our winter birds.
If you feed the birds in your yard, you know how last winter, and extending into our summer months earlier this year, wild birds have been eating most of our customers “out of house and home.” This is because nature did not produce enough natural food sources to provide for their needs.
I have to believe this year will be much different. I suspect wild birds will have no challenge in finding an abundance of seeds during the winter months based on all of the rain we’ve already received this summer. Thankfully, we still have many more weeks for potential monsoon rain activity ahead of us.
Our summer rains produce spring-like conditions, several months apart. We come out of our winter rainy season with a profusion of new spring growth in April and May, which provides for migrating birds and the initial breeding season of our summer resident bird species.
Several months later, our monsoon season produces similar conditions resulting in an abundance of insects, seeds and nectar for wild birds. This onset of summer rains can act as a trigger for summer residents to pair up, breed, and produce a second or third clutch of eggs.
Breeding success is directly dependent upon food availability. If there is sufficient natural food, it is more likely wild birds will experience a successful breeding season. I have to think our spring and early summer months, with exceptionally hot and dry conditions, were not ideal for breeding success.
It is much more likely birds attempting nesting between now and fall will be more successful than their earlier attempts this spring. Remember, breeding occurs in a season, from spring until fall, and is not a one-time event.
Until next week, Happy Birding!
Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn in Prescott, Arizona. Eric has been an avid birder for over 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at email@example.com.