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      Nature Report: Altamira Orioles

      It all starts with a few strands of plant fiber and some string attached to the uppermost branches of a chaparro prieto, but in three weeks of steady work this Altamira oriole will create an intricately woven nest some two feet in length that is constructed securely enough to withstand the gusty winds of Deep South Texas. The female does all the labor, while the male perches nearby admiring her handiwork.

      It is difficult to tell the two bright orange birds apart, but the male is slightly brighter in color and has somewhat of a fuller black throat.

      He is also conspicuous by his lack of nest building activity, although he dutifully stands guard. Altamira orioles range from southernmost Texas to Nicaragua, and this pair nesting west of Rio Grande City has used the same chaparro prieto or black brush to build a nest three years running. Birds are capable of extraordinary engineering feats, and the Altamira oriole certainly constructs one of the most impressive nests in nature.

      Their nest building prowess is not a learned trait, but instinctual.

      They are literally hard wired with the drive and capability to create their woven masterpieces. With the nest finally completed it is time for egg laying and approximately two weeks of incubation.

      And fortunately for the hardworking female her mate will assist in feeding the young. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore