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Are you interested in weird clouds and unique weather? Although you might think we wouldn’t have that many clouds here in the desert, during the late summer we have spectacular, sometimes violent, thunderstorms called “monsoons.” These storms can produce some highly unusual formations.

Last summer some friends and I were swimming in an outdoor pool. We were watching the sky carefully because a monsoon storm was approaching and we didn’t want to get caught in it. The sun was starting to go down when we noticed the most amazing colors in the clouds. We didn't see the usual rainbow colors, however, not the vibrant red-orange-yellow-green -blue-indigo-violet in an arch. Instead, these were the colors you would see in a pool of oily water. We saw greenish-blues, teals and magenta hues. The colors were all over the clouds, too, not like the small pieces of rainbows we call sundogs.

I wrote to a local expert asking about it, but I never heard anything back. I figured it was something like an airplane dumping fuel (it was right near the airport) had caused it, and that I’d never see it again.

This weekend, however, I found a webpage at The Firefly Forest with photos and an explanation. The author, T. Beth Kinsey calls them iridescent clouds. Aren’t they amazing? Take a look and let me know what you think.

binocular boy

Don’t you love it when you find a really great curriculum on-line for free? This weekend I found a terrific educational resource about birds. The author says it’s for elementary grades, but I think it could definitely be used at higher grades as well, with some modifications.

The guide is called “Desert Birding in Arizona, with Focus on Urban Birds" by Doris Evans, illustrated by Doris Evans and Kim Duffek. Although the book definitely emphasizes desert birds, many of the topics covered could be applied anywhere. For example, the first section answers the question, “Why study birds?” It’s relaxing, it gets us outdoors and birds can be observed year around. All those apply no matter where you are studying. The information in this curriculum guide would also be good to add to a unit on deserts.

The curriculum is available as a .pdf file. Go to the Arizona Fish and Wildlife, Focus:  WILD Arizona page, scroll all the way down to the bottom to “Additional Resources” and you’ll find a link to the Desert Birding in Arizona .pdf file. While you are visiting, you can see all the other educational materials available.

Hope you find it useful. Don’t forget to check page 35 for more information about rock doves (pigeons). 🙂