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      The Nature Report: Spring Nesting

      Nesting season is peaking in the South Texas wildlands.

      From formidable great horned owls to diminutive buff-bellied hummingbirds, the brush country has a nest for every niche.

      Great horned owls are among the earliest nesters, with many beginning to incubate in January.

      They do not build their own nests, but rather usurp those of other raptors.

      Since the owls fledge by early spring, the nest then becomes available for another occupant. While the great horned owl expends no effort at construction, the rose throated becard devotes many hours painstakingly threading together her marvelous dome of Spanish moss. Another marvel of avian architecture is the dangling sock of a nest that is intricately woven by the colorful Altamira oriole. The tropical chachalaca does little more than pull a few twigs together within easy reach of a handy site like this natural cradle in the fronds of a native Sabal palm. The pauraque does not bother to match even the minimal activity of the chachalaca, but instead simply lays its eggs on the ground relying on immobility and camouflage to hide from predators. Red-crowned parrots prefer hollows and are choosy about their quarters. They will thoroughly investigate a number of potential sites before deciding on the ideal location. But perhaps the most fascinating abode of all is that of the buff-bellied hummingbird that expertly weaves a delicate cup of a nest together with lichens and spider webs. And if you want to enjoy the nesting season in you own backyard, provide a bird house and you may have a family of entertaining Carolina wrens take up residence.