RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Nothing says South Texas quite like blooming ebony trees and swaying Altamira oriole nests, or towering tepeguajes and dangling woven baskets, or flowering retamas and tropical Altamira abodes.

It is peak nesting season for the bright orange Altamira oriole, and this colorful denizen of the tropics just barely edges into the state in the Rio Grande Valley.

Birds are capable of extraordinary engineering feats, and the Altamira oriole constructs one of the most impressive dwellings, as the two-foot-long nest is the longest of any North American bird.

It all starts with a few strands of plant fiber tightly woven to a specially selected branch. What follows will be hundreds and hundreds of trips to the evolving structure before the intricately woven hanging stocking is finally completed.

The female does all the labor, and it may take her two to three weeks to carefully weave thousands of fibers together, and this is one bird that likes to whistle while she works.

Her nest-building prowess is not a learned trait, but instinctual. She is literally hardwired with the drive and capability to create her exquisitely woven masterpiece.

It is difficult to tell the male and female apart, but the male is often slightly brighter in color and has somewhat of a fuller black throat. He is also conspicuous by his lack of nest-building activity, although he often stands guard admiring his mate’s work.

With the nest finally completed, it is time for egg laying and approximately two weeks of incubation. And, fortunately for the hardworking female, her mate assists in feeding the young.

From dawn to dusk, the devoted parents will bring meal after meal to their youngsters that mature rapidly and fledge approximately two weeks after hatching.