As I was photographing an Altamira Oriole nest the other day, I noticed two Crested Caracaras undertaking some interesting behavior. These large hawk-like falcons were both walking around a small stand of trees and scratched the ground in a similar way as Wild Turkeys.

A Crested Caracara going for an interesting stroll in southern Texas.

A Crested Caracara going for an interesting stroll in southern Texas.

The caracaras were obviously not digging for ground squirrels, mice or gophers, because they were just scraping the surface with their talons. This was actually the second-straight day I’ve seen them do this and I’m baffled as to what they are doing. One possibility is that they were trying to uncover beetles or some other insect that lives in the soil. What makes this so strange is that they circle the stand of trees several times before they pick a spot to begin their scraping. Perhaps they are looking for a spot that might host insect prey? Who knows but it’s interesting behavior to observe!
I have also been keeping track of an Altamira Oriole nest and the eggs should be hatching any day now. Unlike past years, fortunately, I’ve seen no evidence of Bronzed or Brown-headed Cowbirds attempting to lay eggs in the oriole nest. This is a good thing because nest parasitism by cowbirds is thought to be one of the factors that explains the decline in nesting orioles in southern Texas.

Female Altamira Oriole at her nest.

Female Altamira Oriole at her nest.

A striking, orange and black, male Altamira Oriole.

A striking, orange and black, male Altamira Oriole.

As always, I saw other interesting birds and animals that day. One fun sighting was a Greater Roadrunner in action. These large terrestrial birds catch and eat all sorts of prey items, including many small lizards.

A Greater Roadrunner with a tasty lizard.

A Greater Roadrunner with a tasty lizard.

This was the second-straight day I’ve seen a roadrunner nab a lizard. They must be tasty!

I also got a nice, close shot of a beautiful dark-backed Lesser Goldfinch. These small, striking black and yellow finches are fairly common residents in southern and central Texas.

A beautiful Lesser Goldfinch.

A beautiful Lesser Goldfinch.

It was also nice to get photos of a Buff-bellied Hummingbird.  Although several other hummingbird species migrate through and have occurred as vagrants in southern Texas, this species is the only hummingbird that breeds in the southern Rio Grande Valley.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird.

Buff-bellied Hummingbird.

Another look at Buff-bellied Hummingbird, a south Texas specialty.

Another look at Buff-bellied Hummingbird, a south Texas specialty.

Now that summer is essentially here in the Valley, insect activity has increased and offers many opportunities for macro pictures that reveal the minute beauty of bees and other insects.

A close look at a bee.

A close look at a bee.

Always lots of beautiful birds and creatures to photograph in southern Texas!

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