RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – With temperatures soaring past the century mark, South Texas wildlife is inexorably drawn to water from coveys of scaled quail to thirsty white-tailed deer.
This covey of a dozen or so scaled quail line up to slake their thirst while the patriarch, with his distinctive white crown, keeps watch over the youngsters. Scaled quail derive their name from the scaly appearance of their feathering, and they are also called blue quail because of their gunmetal blue coloring. Some call them cotton tops because of the tuft of white feathers on their head.
After quenching their thirst, the youngsters hop up on a nearby log for a log around before disappearing back into the protective shadows of the nearby brush.
This little ranch country pond is a magnet for wildlife, and next up is a beautiful blue grosbeak that is soon joined by a young hooded oriole.
The mourning doves crowd in by the score and don’t hesitate to touch down right in the shallow water.
A grooved bill ani relaxes near the water’s edge in the shady cool, his sturdy grooved bill glinting in the dappled light. And where there is one ani, there is usually more, as these denizens of the brush country are quite gregarious.
Lark sparrows nearly always water together, and when one lowers its bill for a sip, the other keeps watch. And there is plenty to be wary of in the South Texas brush country.
When this Harris’s hawk wades in for a drink, the birds vanish. Nothing misses the gaze of this sharp-eyed raptor, and the hawk is in no hurry to depart, lingering in the tepid water.
As the evening shadows lengthen, the deer begin to arrive, and this beautiful fawn stretches to drink his fill of the life-giving water.