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      Nature Report: Almost Spring

      A black-throated sparrow proclaims his territory from atop a spiny yucca, while nearby a cactus wren sings from a thorny branch. Spring is officially a little more than a week away, but the creatures of the chaparral are not waiting for the calendar date to arrive as they are already busily staking out territories. A screech owl peers out with one eye half open from a hollow in an old mesquite. And those songbirds better be careful, because the diminutive owl just might be tempted to snatch a little breakfast. Perhaps, an even more formidable predator watches from a concealed perch, as the Coppers Hawk specializes in avian prey. And this sharp-eyed raptor is acutely aware of any movement. But, rather than attacking an unwary bird the Cooper's lands pond side to slack its thirst. Sooner or later, all the denizens of the chaparral come to drink, and the cara cara wades right on in repeatedly dipping its large beak into the shallow water. A pair of bobwhite quail slips in next, and they rarely dip their heads simultaneously as one seems to always be on alert. A thirsty indigo glides in and begins drinking. The long black snake is quite fond of water and after sating its thirst swims for several minutes. Water is always a precious resource in the ranch country of southernmost Texas, and this spring the persistent drought makes any available water even more of an attraction for wildlife. And with spring almost here, diamondback rattlesnakes are slithering near ponds seeking to ambush prey|and South Texas is home to some very impressive rattlers. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore.