91 / 67
      92 / 71
      92 / 73

      Nature Report: Vibrant Orioles

      The best place in the United States to see birds is the Rio Grande Valley with more than 500 species identified, and when it comes to colorful orioles the southernmost tip of Texas is the top spot. Orioles come in a range of vibrant plumages from the bright orange of the Baltimore oriole to the vivid yellow and black of the Audubon's. Nine different orioles occur in the United States, and at least six of them either nest or migrate thru the Rio Grande Valley. The Altamira oriole is a South Texas specialty and doesn't range much further north. These bright orange birds with the black mask construct an impressive hanging basket nest that sways in the subtropical breeze from the tip of a branch in a tall tree. The similarly plumaged and slightly smaller hooded oriole weaves an exquisite nest sewn into the underside of a palm frond, and when the male arrives with a tasty bug the young pop up with mouths agape. The female hooded, like other oriole species, is not nearly as gaudy as the male. This is likely a valuable adaptation as she makes more than twice as many trips to the nest to feed the young, and her subdued plumage doesn't attract the same level of attention as the bright orange male. Most orioles do not winter in the United States and they are early migrants, so it won't be long before you may catch a glimpse of a burnt orange orchard oriole, or a Bullock's with its distinctive black eye line pausing to wet its feathers in a South Texas pond. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore