Desert Report March 2021
The temperature was creeping up to 98 degrees and Justin Streit was thankful for the shade of the cottonwood. It was the last day of his bird surveys at Palisades Ranch, and he had already seen a few new yellow warblers on Plot 7 and a recently occupied Cooper’s hawk nest with fledglings begging for food. But there was one species he was hoping to see. Finally, from one of the cottonwood stringers along the western edge of the riparian forest, he heard the unmistakable call of the western yellow-billed cuckoo. He pressed record.
Palisades Ranch is prime avian habitat. It was purchased by the Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) in 2018 with the goal of making it a sustainable and resilient oasis in the West Mojave. The purchase includes a rare stretch of the Mojave River known as the Transition Zone, where the river flows above ground. Most of the Mojave flow underground, but in the 15-mile-long Transition Zone, the underlying bedrock forces the river to the surface.