Adults are flame-orange and black, with white highlights in the wings and a distinctive orange patch at the shoulder. Texas A&M University Like other orioles, they sing rich, sweet whistles interspersed with percussive clucks and chatters. Nests are sometimes found hanging from telephone wires and rarely, other artificial structures. In the 1960s and 1970s, Altamiras became established at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge (26098-A2), where 24 nests were found in 1964 and at least 18 in 1974 (Pleasants 1993). This attempted hybridization occurred in April, 1988 (P. Palmer, pers. data). The brilliant Altamira Oriole is a tropical species with a tiny portion of its range reaching Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. Rather similar to local population of Hooded Oriole, which often occurs in the same areas, even in the same flocks at flowering trees. Despite these differences in body shape, all blackbirds share a sharp, straight bill that can be used to forage for both small creatures and grain. Altamira Oriole was known as Lichtenstein’s Oriole for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, named in honor of German natural historian Martin Hinrich Carl Lichtenstein, a professor of zoology in Berlin and founder of the Zoological Gardens in Berlin. Females lack such attention getting aspects to their plumage but make up for it with subtle browns and streaked patterns that camouflage them while sitting on their nests. Most blackbirds are short distance migrants that leave the cold north for the milder winters of the southern states although the orioles and the Bobolink undertake long distance migrations to Central and South America. Increasingly common, and are breeding residents along the Rio Grande River along the Texas and Mexico border. They can be easy to detect in the morning, especially in spring and summer, when males sing the most. Resident from the southern tip of Texas south through eastern and southern Mexico to the Yucatan, Belize, and northern Central America, the Altamira Oriole has a global population estimated to be as much as 5 million individual birds. The Altamira Oriole is widespread in subtropical lowlands of the Mexican Gulf Coast and northern Central America, and has extended its range into the United States within this century. of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Very rare on BBS routes, Altamiras occur regularly, in numbers>10, on three LRGV Christmas Bird Counts (Santa Ana, Anzalduas-Bentsen, and Falcon Dam State Park; Root 1988), and irregularly or in very small numbers on four other LRGV counts and two other counts in the United States. Resident from the southern tip of Texas south through eastern and southern Mexico to the Yucatan, Belize, and northern Central America, the Altamira Oriole has a global population estimated to be as much as 5 million individual birds. They were unknown in the United States until a bird was spotted in southern Texas in 1939. 56 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). Elsewhere, look and listen for this species in taller trees near water. Oberholser, H. C. 1974. Fink, D., T. Auer, A. Johnston, M. Strimas-Mackey, O. Robinson, S. Ligocki, B. Petersen, C. Wood, I. Davies, B. Sullivan, M. Iliff, S. Kelling. Estimated for 2018. They often come to feeding stations, particularly at parks and national wildlife refuges. 33–38. STATUS: The first generally accepted Altamira Oriole specimen from the United States was collected in 1939, in Cameron County (25097) (Oberholser 1974). Like the Old World Common Cuckoo, instead of building their own nests, cowbirds leave their eggs in the nests of other species; a behavior that has a negative impact on the host species' nestlings and has contributed to the decline in many songbird species populations. One species, the Slender-billed Grackle, is presently listed as extinct, also due to the loss of its wetland habitat. Altamiras recently nesting at Santa Ana have used mainly field edge habitat (Brush & Bray, unpub. These birds are permanent residents, and unlike the migratory orioles that breed in the US, the species is sexually monomorphic—both the males and the females have elaborate coloration and patterning.
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