Wildlife Lesson-Orange Pride

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“Birds are flying over the garden. What are you doing inside the house? Join them! If you can’t join them, at least open the window and greet them!”
Mehmet Murat ildan 

 

 

On March 20th spring crawled in even though we had cold air and snow covering the garden.  But it was the signs that nature brings, that really heralded DSCN7229the new season was indeed upon us.  The red-winged blackbirds had arrived a few days before….and the deer, who were about and feeding on shrubs, were already losing their winter coats.

 

 

And I knew that eventually the warm winds would blow again and melt the foot of snow remaining (we are still waiting for the melt).  So it was time to get ready for other critters we knew would be returning.  I usually put out the hummingbird feeder in late-April as scouts can be out and about.  And right on the hummingbird’s tail feathers, is the arrival of other birds.

 

 

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One of my favorite birds, returning north anytime between later April and early May, is the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula).  I adore their bright colors, a welcome sight, just as the trees are leafing out so I can still watch them easily.

 

 

 

Last year, they announced themselves with their wonderful song and by hanging on the two hummingbird feeders we had out (see photo at the top of the post).  I had not seen too many of these beauties before in my garden except when one or two would take a quick bath in the pond.

 

 

 

other birds on feeder

But last year, there were several hanging around the hummer feeder trying to get at the tasty liquid.  So I quickly purchased a ‘cadillac’ oriole feeder.  Orange in color with lots of spots for drinking sweetened liquid, eating orange pieces or partaking of grape jelly.  It was a big hit with the orioles and hummers, and other birds who learned how to get to the sweetened water like the catbirds, downy woodpeckers and house sparrows (top left to bottom right).

 

 

DSCN7155Last year at the crack of dawn, the orioles would wake me as they ate and sang at their feeder which was right under my bedroom window.   Such a wonderful array of bright warm colors against the early morning sun.  They are a perfect symbol of summer as the color orange represents warmth and heat.

 

 

 

I have never spotted an oriole nest in my garden, but they do build their nests in the “wild area” woods behind us.  It is an unusual sight to see this basket of grasses hanging from slim fibers on a tree branch.

 

 

And once the babies fledge, the orioles are gone as quickly as they came.  But their short time in my garden gives me much pride; which is another word for happiness.

 

 

oriole collage
Top 2 are males; bottom left is  female and bottom right is fledgling

 

Here are some interesting facts about Baltimore Orioles:

  • They got their name because their orange and black colors are the same as the heraldic crest of the Baltimore family of England.
  • It is said, Baltimore Orioles prefer only ripe, dark-colored fruit, and will ignore ripe green and yellow fruits.  Ours loved the dark grape jelly, but did not like the oranges we put out.
  • Young male Baltimore Orioles do not get their bright-orange adult feathers until their second year. They are very similar in appearance to younger females.
  • Females become a brighter orange as they molt, and almost resemble bright orange males once they are older.
  • Baltimore Orioles can stab soft fruits, and drink the liquid with their tongues.

 

 

 

With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.

 

 

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I leave you with another thought about birds.  Feel free to download this photo and share.

bird-oriole

All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015.  Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.