A little less tero-torial now


With the camera I have, very difficult to see subject in bright light

Tero-tero nest, Uruguay

I have not spent much time in the campo lately, and was fully expecting to see the baby tero-teros.

Instead, I was not greeted by noise. The teros, near the tajamar (pond), remained quiet until I approached to check the water level.

Here’s the nest. Empty. No eggs, no shells, nothing. I don’t know what transpired, but apparently we won’t be seeing little teros this summer.

Tero-tero nest, Uruguay

Meanwhile, the water level has subsided in the tajamar with our recent suffocating heat. The grasses I planted to the left are high and dry, but hanging in there (and I learned that the second type of mystery floating plants, which I did not add, were put there by my neighbor Mañuel).

I try to keep my blogs short, so that if one is boring, at least, well, it’s short. But since we’re on the subjects of teros and water, I must relate a revelation: an Uruguayan guy about my age told me that when he was a kid, visiting his grandfather’s estancia (big country place), the teros hung around the water, in the thousands. When they took flight, they formed a cloud that blocked out the sun. With the advent of “modern” (i.e., unsustainable) agriculture, they adapted: so now you see them only in pairs, far from water, near streets, even on Avenida Italia in Montevideo. I never dreamed they could exist in a crowd.

8 Replies to “A little less tero-torial now”

  1. Sad. I suppose a fox or a larger lizard simply took the eggs whole as there were no shell remains.

  2. Good point: though I have not seen one of the huge mofo lizards in it, a major sub-road culvert exists perhaps 80 meters away, and they like to hang out in those (like trolls of old under bridges). I spotted the meter-long tail of one disappearing into the crude bridge across the stream that divides our property some time ago, but that is probably 300 meters distant.

    One of those (was told their name; don't recall) would have done in the eggs in whole, leaving no trace, while shrugging off the piercing cries and threatening dive bombing of momma and papa tero.

  3. I think the guy was pulling your leg! I was born and raised till I was 12 in Durazno, about 200 km from Montevideo. I saw plenty of large estancias (cattle ranches) with huge open fields, and yes, there would be teros, many sometimes, but clouds of them? If he did see that, he must have been smoking something other than tobacco.

    1. He said that living in pairs, and adapting to living in cities, is new(ish) adaptive behavior. Though he does have a good sense of humor, he’s also the type that doesn’t want to pull something on you without your knowing it. Maybe I added “clouds.” But I do think he said sometimes hundreds.

  4. Teros do have those red prongs on their wings, with which they try to catch you, But in general all they try to do is scare you away from their nests. Yeah they might kind of hit you over the head with their wings, but it just a small thump. I love to see them guarding their nests, running away, crouching to get up and run away again, trying to fool you regarding the actual location of their nest.

    1. I haven’t actually observed anything like that. Never close enough to hit me on the head, which is a Good Thing, but they seem to behave in a way to advertise the presence of desirable prey. As in, “do not approach, I will hassle you.”

      In contrast, when Syd and I walk in the sandy wasteland of Villa Argentina norte, we have had on several occasion found the dogs suddenly chasing “crippled” birds making a lot of noise and scampering through the brush like helpless prey, who are clearly (to us, not the dogs) diverting their attention. It’s quite marvelous to watch.

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