RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Gently swaying with a hint of dawn breeze, this Altamira oriole nest dangles from blooming retama with branches sweeping yellow gold flowers over a tranquil pond.
Soon, the first meal of the day soars in as an oriole lands and enters the nest. After transferring the insect to young ensconced in the hanging basket, the parent peers out briefly and then departs in search of another savory tidbit.
Both the male and female orioles are busy this morning ferrying nourishment to their brood, and every now and then they both arrive at the nest simultaneously with one having to leave before the other can enter.
While the parents are busily garnering sustenance for their offspring, an enormous alligator silently glides in just below the nest.
Reaching the bank, the gator suddenly snaps shut his huge jaws. Perhaps, he crushed something, or he may have been announcing his presence to other gators in this watery realm with an ominous crunch.
Next, he stretches out his impressive 12 feet, raises his head and tail, and emits a series of primordial bellows.
Even the orioles are taking notice of this intimidating presence roaring just below their nest, and for a moment deliveries are curtailed as they pause with insects clutched in their beaks.
It is alligator mating season in South Texas, and while both male and female gators bellow, this big fella is definitely a male as females rarely exceed eight or nine feet.
Male alligators produce a sub-audible vibration called a “water dance,” and preceding each bellow you can see droplets sprinkling over his massive back.
Meanwhile, the orioles have resumed their airlifts, but those youngsters better be careful when they make their first flight or they just might become a gator snack.