Nesting Season is in full swing in deep South Texas, and there is a nest for every niche. From the exquisitely woven hanging nest of the Altamira oriole to the lesser nighthawk that simply lays its eggs on the ground, there are a fascinating variety of strategies employed to help insure nesting success. While the colorful orioles rely on a tightly basket dangling from a slender branch in a tall tree to deny access to most predators, the nighthawks depend solely on camouflage to keep predators from finding their nest. Many birds are cavity nesters, like this ash-throated flycatcher, and secret their brood away from prying eyes. Pausing at the entrance of a mesquite hollow, the flycatcher peers about for any hint of danger before dropping down into the cavity. Old mesquite hollows are also a favorite of the screech owl, and they often linger at the entrance in the late afternoon as they prepare to take flight for the evenings hunt. The cactus wren conceals her nest in the thorny pads of the prickly pear where it is both well hidden and protected by the sharp spines of the cactus. But you don't have to venture out into the wildlands to appreciate the nesting birds of the Rio Grande Valley, as there are plenty of entertaining residents in our own backyards.
This pair of red-crowned parrots has selected a hollow in an old neighborhood cottonwood to raise their young, and when they are not busy with nesting activities they spend time affectionately grooming one another. Sometimes, enterprising birds like the Carolina wren simply appropriate a handy mailbox to raise their young. And while this can result in a slight rerouting of the mail, it's worth it to enjoy the antics of the perky wrens. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore