Nature Notes

Series produced by Marfa Public Radio

Series image
Image by: Megan Wilde 

Nature Notes explores the natural world of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Why do rattlesnakes rattle and hummingbirds hum? How do flowers market themselves to pollinators? Why do tarantulas cross the road?

Every week, Nature Notes investigates questions like these about the plants and animals of the Chihuahuan Desert region in the southwestern United States.

Now in its fourth year, Nature Notes is a 4½-minute weekly radio program produced by Marfa Public Radio in Marfa, Texas, in conjunction with the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute in Fort Davis, Texas. This environmental program examines a little-known desert region in the United States and Mexico. But many desert-dwellers featured—such as turkey vultures and prairie dogs—will be familiar to listeners outside this region. Through interviews with scientists and field recordings, Nature Notes reveals the secrets of desert life.


39 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Piece image
Do you know how to identify plants of the Solanaceae family with their five petals?

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Oct 22, 2012
  • Length: 04:24
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Heat and dryness are facts of existence in West Texas. Every living thing must either evade these conditions or adapt to them. Humans, through tech...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Oct 19, 2012
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: A swallowtail butterfly on a pipevine plant., Credit: Photo from ljworld.com. Photo by Mike Yoder.
The Pipevine Plant and its importance in the West Texas ecosystem.

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Oct 18, 2012
  • Length: 04:31
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Everyone is familiar with Turkey Vultures, those huge black birds that circle high in the sky, searching for road kill. The rare Zone-tailed Hawk o...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Oct 18, 2012
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Cenizo puts on a show during the rainy season. , Credit: Cathryn Hoyt
In the Chihuahuan Desert region, we spend fall, winter, spring and summer dreaming of and talking about our fifth season—the rainy season. Local wa...

  • Added: Oct 18, 2012
  • Length: 04:30
Piece image
Not all owls hunt at night and nest in trees. Burrowing owls greet the sun from abandoned prairie dog dens. What else makes these tiny birds unique?

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 19, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Big Bend National Park is home to many rare and endangered species, but the Big Bend gambusia lives particularly close to the edge of extinction. H...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 19, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Some birds sing. Others twitter, tweet or trill. But the common nighthawk goes boom in the night. This noise isn’t all that sets nighthawks apart i...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 19, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Learning to vocalize is a surprisingly unusual ability in the animal world. How do young songbirds master their musical talents?

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 19, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
The 21 oak species in our region assume many forms and are survivors of the last Ice Age. Who are these tenacious trees? And what animals depend on...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 19, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Harvester ants carry food several times their size., Credit: Cathryn Hoyt
You’ve seen their sprawling, barren mounds, like little moonscapes in your field or lawn. But what lies beneath harvester ants’ conspicuous mounds?

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 07, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
These tiny crustaceans come to life for just a short while during our rainy season, but their eggs can wait decades to hatch and ride the wind for ...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 07, 2011
  • Length: :59
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Summer storms send many desert frogs and toads into a raucous reproductive frenzy. What role do their choruses play in their hasty courtship?

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 07, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Cenizo puts on a show during the desert's rainy season., Credit: Cathryn Hoyt
In the Chihuahuan Desert, we spend fall, winter, spring and summer talking about our fifth season—the rainy season. What does its arrival mean for ...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 07, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Animals and insects aren’t being altruistic when they pollinate a plant. So how do plants attract and reward them for their services?

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 07, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Testudinella patina, Credit: T. Schröder, R.L. Wallace, E. Walsh
Every pristine spring, mucky cattle tank, and rain-filled hueco in the Chihuahuan Desert is home to an exceptionally diverse array of microscopic a...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 07, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Aldo Leopold's legendary essay collection, A Sand County Almanac, has inspired countless conservationists and earned Aldo Leopold a place alongside...

Bought by WTIP and KENW


  • Added: Apr 07, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 2
Piece image
With its showy red crest and golden bill, the pyrrhuloxia shouldn't be confused with its more flamboyant cardinal relative. What makes this desert ...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Apr 07, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
They eat roadkill. They urinate on themselves. When frightened, they vomit. The turkey vultures have returned. Why does this harbinger of spring ha...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Mar 22, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
Trees seem scarce in the Chihuahuan Desert. But soapberry trees manage to thrive throughout our region and can even be used to wash your hands. How...

Bought by KENW


  • Added: Mar 22, 2011
  • Length: 04:30
  • Purchases: 1