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      Nature Report: Nest for Every Niche

      Just a few days ago this lesser nighthawk was carefully tucking two eggs beneath her as she incubated them in the arid ranch land of Deep South Texas. After positioning them just right in the rocky soil of western Starr County she would sit motionless for hours at a time protecting them from predators and the scorching sun. Now, some 20 days since laying her eggs on the bare ground they have hatched, and two fluffy chicks have emerged. She is a very conscientious mother and does not leave her young unattended for long. It will be three weeks before they fledge, and hopefully they will be able to remain hidden from danger until the day they fly. While the nighthawk builds no nest and relies solely on camouflage to elude predators, the cactus wren builds a comfy nest of woven grass in the midst of a prickly pear cactus. Four little cactus wrens joust for position at the nest's entrance, and when a parent arrives with a bug the babies are quick to snap up the snack. These little rascals are not going to remain nest bound long as they teeter out on the edge and exercise their wings. In an effort to coax them out or maybe just checking on them, a parent occasionally arrives with no food and that seems to get the youngsters thinking seriously about taking flight. Whether simply laying their eggs on the ground and blending in with the landscape like the nighthawk or weaving a nest amidst thorny cactus the birds of the South Texas wildlands have adapted successfully to their native environment. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore