The monsoon rains provided the nourishment necessary to provide valuable nectar for pollinators in the little nook I call home. Patagonia spent the late summer burgeoning with life, all emanating from the life-giving moisture that blesses the earth over the warm summer months. I was enthralled by the kaleidoscope of shapes, sizes and colors that bounded through the landscape. However, just 15 miles away, the monsoon rains had a very different affect on the landscape.
Drought-dormant green blades shot up through crusty earth with the presence of this influx of moisture in what looks like a verdant sea. While pollinators don’t dominate this landscape, Bouteloua gracilis, the blue grama, is a larval host for skipper butterflies. And many other grasses provide food for caterpillars as they develop into butterflies, which can now be seen on the flowering Ericameria nauseosa, rabbitbrush. But right now, two months after the last rainfall, the grasses play a different role in the environment.
Months ago, the green grass developed seedhead and turned brown as its chlorophyll desiccated. These seeds spent weeks developing into fertile seeds. And now, after months of dry, hot weather, they are some of the few accessible calories available. And grassland birds, specifically sparrows, are gorging themselves in this abundant resource now.
I now spend many of my days working in these lands to not only collect seed, but also to study the impact of invasive grasses on the vegetative makeup and the invasion’s affect on native grassland sparrow populations.