Sunday, May 26, 2013

Baltimore Oriole / Orchard Oriole

People take notice of orioles.

Baltimore Orioles have an 
"ooh ’n aah" quality about them. They’re bold, colorful and special enough that you’ll look up when you hear one.

Although they choose the highest treetop, they’re easy to spot.  The male has a bright red-orange or yellow-orange breast and the female is mostly yellow.   

Their song is loud, clear and melodic and both sexes sing throughout the day.  They seem proud to be orioles in full view with no need to hide.

I photographed this female Baltimore Oriole last summer.  She probably had a nest close by, but not in this tree. Baltimore Oriole territories are not large compared to other birds.  The female builds a nest high up and wide of the main trunk.  The male may bring plant material, but the female does all the weaving for the hanging, pouch-like nest. The male’s main job is defense of the territory.

The Orchard Oriole is a bit smaller and a lot less flamboyant, although still impressive. He too has a black head and black wings. White wing-bars outline his wings...for contrast, a chestnut colored breast.  

The Baltimore Oriole and the Orchard Oriole territories overlap the eastern half of the United States in summer. They all leave for Central and South America in the winter.

Tall deciduous trees are important to orioles. If you want a nesting pair, you need tall trees.  But orioles are attracted to orange halves and nectar feeders filled with sugar water, just like hummingbirds.  You may not get them to nest without the tall trees, but you can enjoy them at your window with just a little food.