Southern Texas is the only place in the country where the Altamira Oriole can be seen. This big, beautiful bird is really more of a Middle American species that occurs in eastern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, and on to Nicaragua, and is much more common south of the border.
It’s not all that rare in southern Texas but since it has shown a decline in numbers, and has such a small range within the state, this Icterid is listed as a threatened for the Lone Star State. Lately, I have had the privilege to photograph a pair of these stunning orioles at their nest.
Speaking of nests, this species has the longest of any bird species in the country. Its basket like nest is hard to miss because it can be over 25 inches in length!
As with other birds, the orioles come and go from the nest, thus giving me chances to get nice shots of them perched and in flight.
I’m glad that I have the oriole nest to take pictures of because although it’s only May, it already feels like the dog days of summer as far as I’m concerned – hot, windy, and humid. Due to the weather, each day, it’s getting a little more difficult to find willing subjects to photograph. The oriole photos and the following images were taken at Sabal Palm Sanctuary and Laguna Atascosa NWR.
The Clay-colored Thrush is a neotropical species that is very common south of the border. Although it used to be a rare vagrant to southern Texas, it is often found by visiting birders and has even bred in the area.
If you see a hummingbird in south Texas at this time of the year, it’s probably going to be a Buff-bellied. Although other species can show up as vagrants, the Buff-bellied is the regular breeding hummingbird species in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
Greater Roadrunners are commonly seen at this time of the year and are always fun to watch.
Another fun bird to watch is the Osprey. This fish-eating raptor can also be seen in south Texas, mostly on the shore and at coastal lagoons.
Although there are fewer birds to take pictures of, there are more flowers at this time of the year, including the striking pink blooms of the Prickly Pear Cactus.
More flowers also means more butterflies. Many species of butterflies occur in south Texas including various Hairstreaks.
Hopefully, the orioles will have a successful nesting season and I will run into a lot more birds and butterflies while visiting the natural areas of southern Texas in June.