RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — It’s a busy time of year at every South Texas oasis as all the creatures of the chaparral are seeking to quench their thirst and perhaps take a cooling bath.
Many of the birds come to water in pairs. Nesting season is peaking, and just about all the brush country birds are paired up. Also, it never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes watching over you when lowering your guard to drink.
Sometimes, a loyal mate, like this male cardinal will watch from a nearby perch as the female cautiously approaches the water’s edge. This pair of Ground doves nervously arrives together for a tentative sip before suddenly vanishing in a burst of wings.
Water is a magnet for all wildlife, and the predators like this bobcat are always lurking in the shadows waiting for a chance to pounce. The sharp-eyed Cooper’s hawk perching in a nearby mesquite waits patiently for an unwary bird to ambush.
There is plenty to be wary of when approaching the life-giving water, but this does not deter the constant parade of wildlife, from thirsty cottontail rabbits to parched armadillos.
The Scaled quail are particularly abundant on this Starr County ranch, and they all arrive in pairs. The vocal males appear unperturbed by the possible presence of predators and loudly proclaim their territories with distinctive high-pitched calls.
The quail seem so unfazed by danger they settle in for a late afternoon dirt bath at the water’s edge, but don’t be fooled; as the female relaxes pond side the male remains ever vigilant.