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      The Nature Report: Nesting Season in the Valley

      It is peak nesting season in southernmost Texas and in the Rio Grande Valley there is a nest for every niche. From the elaborately woven hanging basket meticulously crafted by the Altamira oriole to the common pauraque TMs habit of simply depositing its eggs in a slight depression on the ground; there is a wide variety of nesting strategies employed by native birds. Some, like the yellow-headed parrots are cavity nesters, and the Valley TMs old palm trees are favorite haunts for these tropical denizens.

      Red-crowned parrots and wild green parakeets also frequent the palms. In the brush country where there are no palms available, the diminutive screech owl often seeks out a cavity in a venerable mesquite.

      While the much larger great horned owl is known to nest in abandoned deer stands, they frequently appropriate the old nests of other raptors. Another cavity nester is the golden fronted woodpecker, and this pair has used the same hollow for several years to raise their young.

      Carolina wrens will inhabit any available space from birdhouses to mailboxes and will often raise two or three broods a year. Hooded orioles are experts at tucking their nests on the underside of palm fronds where predators cannot easily detect them.

      Brush country pyrrhuloxias also employ secrecy when placing their nests deep within thorny thickets. Raptors like the white-tailed hawk and aplomado falcon fashion bulky bundles of sticks in the uppermost branches of ebony trees and yuccas to keep them safe from raccoons and coyotes. But there is nothing quite like the exquisitely woven tiny cup of a nest where the buff-bellied humming bird resides.