Friday, June 29, 2012

The Altamira Oriole

Altamira Oriole
The name borrows from the spanish; alta, (high), mira (look!).  In other words, look high. (What else is new?)

Altamira Oriole
It seems that 80% of the birds are up high.  Being in rattlesnake country, one is always aware that while looking high, you are not looking low, where you should be looking.  There are several orioles in this part of Texas.  In these parts, mostly what we see are the neighborhood Baltimore Oriole and the Orchard Oriole.  All the orioles are beautiful birds, mixing yellow with orange and black.  The juxtaposition of these colors varies with each species.  The Altamira Oriole is the largest of the oriole family with a large bill and a short tail.  He has perhaps more black under his chin that the others, and white at the base of the primaries. 

We were standing on the banks of the Rio Grande while observing this bird.  We struck up a conversation with a fellow who had a huge telephoto lens, and was only 15 or 20 birds away from seeing and photographing all seven hundred and some birds in North America.  His other passion was rock climbing.  The guy was 60 years old, and had just scaled El Capitan in Yosemite!  He had been to Minnesota last winter looking, without success, for the Great Grey Owl.  I began to wonder what this guy did for a living to be able to devote so much time to these passions of his.  At the same time, I was beginning to realize that I was involved in a hobby for which my level of income was poorly out of sync with reality.  I might have to settle for the sparrows and robins of Bedford street.

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