Sunday, June 10, 2012

Altamira Oriole

As we headed out of Texas, we tried to find the Salinero bird feeders. I had only a vague idea that feeders existed near the town of Salinero, along the Rio Grand, just downstream from the Falcon Dam. I thought the feeders were near some trailer homes. Nobody I asked had a clue what I was talking about, not the convenience store manager on the main highway, or at the local fire station. We drove on deteriorating roads until we reached the river, where, hidden in the brush (but with a sign welcoming birders), sat a single trailer with a huge bird feeding station.

We faced a long drive across western Texas, so we could not spend much time at the feeders. We sat on lawn chairs with a half dozen other birders. We quickly saw an Altamira Oriole. The Altamira Oriole, also known as Lichtenstein's or Black-throated oriole, is common across most of its Mexican and Central American Range. In the United States, the species is only found in the southern Rio Grand Valley.

Unlike Minnesota orioles, the sexes of Altamira Orioles are similar. They are solitary nesters and are monogamous. Because their nests are pendulous, hanging from high, inaccessible branches or telephone wires, little is known about the life history of this stunning bird (Brush and Pleasants 2005).

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