The Brilliance of Orioles

They’re ba-ack! Isn’t this Hooded Oriole beautiful? (Or, it could very well be an Altamira Oriole way out of its south Texas range.) We have a pair of Bullock’s Orioles as well. All hang out in the Western half of the U.S., though the Hooded seems to be more concentrated in California and Arizona. They prefer riparian corridors of oak, pine and fir and love sweet nectar. If they cannot find an official “Oriole feeder,” they try their darnedest to drink from a hummingbird feeder–upside down, from underneath, any which way they can. It doesn’t work. The opening is too tiny, and the perch too close to the blossom tube–but just right for the long, narrow bills of hummers. Above is an oriole feeder with a more sturdy perch and an opening made for their shorter, stouter bills. I use the same nectar formula for orioles and hummers—four parts water to one part sugar—and both species are happy. The discoloration on the plastic feeder in the photo is from my idiotic idea to put the thing in the dishwasher. Not smart—changed the color but didn’t melt it. Orioles are shy and flighty, unlike the hummingbirds who go about their business of drinking while I am out on the porch exchanging feeders; not so with the oriole pair. They take flight with the least little sound or even just a shadow of me through the nearby window. It took me a dozen attempts to finally capture this photo. If you want to garden for Orioles, plant trees or shrubs which produce berries or fruit, such as elderberries, persimmons, and cherries. The will also eat the cut halves of apples and oranges. Hammer a nail through the back of a board, and push the fruit half onto the nail. Add a larger nail or dowel below as a perch. Suspend the board where the Orioles will see it. They also like insects, caterpillars, and spiders. I’m thrilled when they return in the spring to feed and nest. I know they’re back when I hear their warbles and several whistled notes–very distinctive.


About writersandy

Writer, Gardener, Crafter
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