RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – It is approaching peak nesting season in southernmost Texas and in the Rio Grande Valley there is a nest for every niche.
From the elaborately woven hanging basket meticulously crafted by the Altamira oriole to the common pauraque’s habit of simply depositing its eggs in a slight depression on the ground, there are a wide variety of nesting strategies employed by native birds.
Some, like red-crowned parrots are cavity nesters, and the Valley’s old palm trees are favorite haunts for these tropical denizens.
In the brush country, where there are no palms available, the diminutive screech owl often seeks out a cavity in a venerable mesquite. However, the much larger great horned owl is known to appropriate the old nest of another raptor.
The Ash-throated flycatcher also seeks out a convenient cavity to raise its young, while woodpeckers like the ladder-back busily chip out hollows in which to reside.
Hooded orioles are experts at tucking their nests on the underside of palm fronds where predators cannot easily detect them.
Scissortail flycatchers often select a thorny native tree such as the retama to construct their nest where they will rear as many as four youngsters.
Colonial water birds like Reddish egrets and Roseate spoonbills build their nests out in the bay on remote islands where it is difficult for predators to reach them.
Least grebes take it a step farther, and create their own island of floating sticks, grass and mud where they will nurture their brood.
However, there is nothing quite like the exquisitely woven tiny cup of a nest sequestered away from prying eyes where the buff-bellied hummingbird resides.