RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The golden light of early morning reveals myriad life on Valley resacas, and these ancient meanderings of the Rio Grande are home to a fascinating diversity of birds that don’t venture much farther north than deep South Texas.
Suddenly, a rare Ringed kingfisher lands with a fish clenched firmly in his beak. He repeatedly slams his slippery prey into the perch, vigorously subduing the first catch of the day, before finally turning his back and swallowing the piscine treat.
Below the kingfisher perch, tucked beneath overhanging foliage and concealed amidst a jumble of sticks, a pair of Least grebes busily construct their floating nest.
Hopping aboard with a delivery of plant material, the diminutive grebe expertly deposits the load, pauses briefly and then departs for yet another paddle to acquire building product.
Both the male and female grebes engage in nest building, and it will require a joint effort of hundreds of trips to complete the floating nest consisting of decaying aquatic vegetation.
Least grebes, measuring less than 10 inches, are the smallest members of the grebe family and normally don’t nest much farther north than southernmost Texas.
Grebes are similar to loons and ducks, but they sit higher in the water and have lobed toes, pointed beaks with longer, more slender necks.
Their legs are contained largely within their body, and their feet stick out far toward the rear enabling them to be very efficient paddlers and divers.
Working together, the pair will finish their nest within a week, but even while incubating will continue to shore up their floating structure, that is when they are not out diving for aquatic insects.
Sharing the resaca with the least grebes is a little Green kingfisher that is only some eight inches in length, but before he can enjoy his fish the Ringed kingfisher appropriates his perch.