Thursday, May 19, 2016

Baltimore Orioles

Orange is for Oriole

Baltimore Orioles are arriving everyday now.  Ours were first seen this past weekend.  

Baltimore Oriole
As soon as oriole season arrives we put out oranges slices for them.  They have travelled a long way and need quick nourishment.  At this time of year they are attracted to oranges.  The colour attracts them and the fruit helps them replace their depleted energy reserves.  This year our oranges were only out for 2 days before we saw the oriole feeding on them.  I have found later on in the season they no longer prefer the oranges probably because they feed mainly on insects at that time.

Female and Male Baltimore Orioles
The photo above shows the colourful plumage of the male oriole.  The female, of course, is duller but still shows some orange.  She can be variable in plumage.  The female shown above has considerable brown on her head.  Others can show more orange on the head.

Baltimore Orioles breed in deciduous forests, forest edges of parks and forests along rivers.  They winter in Florida, Mexico and the West Indies and arrive here in mid-May.  They raise their young here and stay until mid-August to early September.  They are known for their woven hanging basket-like nests which used to be found in elm trees here.  Fortunately they have adapted to other species of trees when we lost so many of our elms to Dutch elm disease.

The Baltimore Oriole received its name because its colours resemble the colours of the coat of arms of Lord Baltimore.  The orange of the male oriole is the most brilliant orange you can ever see.  Being set off with the black makes it a very beautiful bird.  No wonder they are attracted to orange!  Last year we had an interesting sighting which shows just how much they love orange.  We have a solar garden light that is round and orange in colour.  I watched one day as the male oriole landed on it and began to pick at it.  He appeared disappointed that it was not filled with juice!

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