I Really Like to be in Southern Texas

by Dave Hanks

I REALLY LIKE TO BE IN SOUTHERN TEXAS!

It’s pleasant in winter time, when temperatures are low.

This is the time of year when it’s best to go

To the Rio Grande Valley to enjoy the birdie show.

I REALLY LIKE TO BE IN SOUTHERN TEXAS!

All sorts of perchers like these conditions too

Just put out some feed and they soon come into view.

They are there in abundance, and I will name a few:

I REALLY LIKE TO BE IN SOUTHERN TEXAS!

To see Woodpeckers, Jays, Thrashers, and the Kiskadee;

Cardinals and Titmice, and an Oriole in a tree

And so many, many others, are there for you to see.

One gulf coast denizen is the Tri-Colored Heron. It is also known as the Louisiana Heron. They will be there stalking the shallows to catch and ingest almost anything that they can get down their gullet. This 26 inch tall bird inhabits the saline waters of the gulf’s marshes and mangrove swamps.

Audubon Oriole is another southern Texas joy to find, with its yellow body and black head and neck. Texas has more bird species than any other state in the union, and when we can take a trip there, it is always rewarding.

 

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Bullock’s Orioles Nest at our Place

Each year, we look forward to the first week in May when our orioles appear. They are eager to get at the sugar-water we have set out for them. Their golden/orange, contrasted against black markings on their head and throat, along with black and white wings, is “breath taking”. The species is sexually dimorphic, with the males being slightly larger than the females and more brightly colored. She has gray/brown under-parts, and her upper-parts are a duller yellow with an olive crown. Immature birds resemble the females.

Bullock’s Orioles are seasonally monogamous, and we have had as many as four pairs take advantage of our trees to nest in our yard. You can’t mistake an oriole nest. It is like a sock that hangs down, suspended from a branch. Three to six eggs are laid, and both sexes cooperate to raise the young. I am always amazed at how tiny the young are when they are out of the nest, and how in a week’s time they have grown into large birds. Both sexes will sing – the males with the sweeter voice and the female’s voice more prolific.

This species is a western bird which migrates here, to nest, from Mexico. Its counterpart (Baltimore Oriole) is the eastern half of a species which is called Northern Oriole. Bullock’s will hybridize with the Baltimore where their ranges meet.

It is interesting to learn that it is one of the few species able to recognize, puncture, and destroy cowbird eggs (a nest parasite) – thereby limiting the spread of this objectionable species.

This bird is named after William Bullock, an amateur English naturalist.

Adding color to our yard

Sugar Water

Both of these birds love sugar water.

To attract these birds, fill a quart fruit jar with 1 part sugar, 6 parts water and invert it onto a baby chick waterer which you can purchase from any local farm supply store.

Both of the birds below were photgraphed at home, perching, before they came down to the sugar water.

Western Tanager

Bullock’s Oriole