Is there anything quite so amazing as the first sight and first hearing of Oriole song in Spring? I personally get so excited about Orioles. I always hear them before I see them, which is probably a testament to 50+ year old eyes!
Before taking over The Birdhouse in 2017, I can't say with any certainty that I'd ever seen, with my own eyes, an oriole. Specifically a Baltimore Oriole.
Having grown up in Brighton Ontario Canada, in such close proximity to a multitude of apple orchards, you would think that Orioles would have been old hat for me. But to my memory I'd only ever seen them in pictures. And I never could wrap my head how such a bird had been associated with a baseball team!
But after taking over The Birdhouse I got to see them in volume. It became the best part of spring for me. The putting up of our feeders, one window feeder and one larger feeder at the regular bird station, loading them up with jelly and oranges and waiting to see when they'd show up. I always heard them first. It's distinctive. At first you think Robin but no - it's more melodic than a Robin!
We had Cottonwood trees at our old location by Presqu'ile and it seemed to be their tree of choice to sing from and nest in. I'd hear them and my eyes would start darting to the tops of the trees looking for the flash of bright orange of the male singing his heart out.
We'd be busy in the store, as orioles are not the only spring customers that we have, and the rattle of the window feeder with a deep pool of jelly was the defining moment that they had truly found our feeders.
The first year we had about 4, the second we had around 10 and we seemed to stick with the same little crowd for the third year.
The oriole feeders are quite busy from the time they arrive until the time their eggs hatch and they turn to more of an insect diet to support their young. Although the males may still show up from time to time to get their sugar fix.
Once, there was one older female that looked a little worn out - having a hanging nest full of hungry babies was clearly a weary chore. I once saw her snatch a wasp out of the air as it came up from behind her while she was sitting on the window feeder. Incredible precision and a fantastic hit of protein for her. Quite an amazing sight to see!
Oriole feeders are varied and plenty and can be FOUND HERE. You can find oriole feeders that feed jelly and/or oranges or feeders that do all three of jelly, oranges and NECTAR. It's the same nectar solution that hummingbirds need. It does not need to be any sweeter than what is already found in nature. Darker purple colored jellies seem to be preferred by orioles and they love our BIRDBERRY JELLY we sell in store. Most every feeder is orange in colour - and while some of that is likely the marketing to humans, it is their colour and helps to attract them to the feeders that they feel safe with.
Some people swear they only eat one of the food offerings in their yard, but really they do eat all three. I think what happens is that they may imprint and deem one jelly source safe in one yard, and drink nectar at the neighbours and have some orange at yet another. Other yards will be busy for all 3 food sources. This can cause a bit of confusion for humans but be assured they are all getting a well rounded diet through a short flight between natural sources and a quick parade through obliging neighbourhoods.
We typically tell our customers that they can put their oriole feeders out at the same time they do their hummingbird feeders. At the start of the last week of April here in south eastern Ontario Canada. The odd one might show up ahead of the pack and will be plenty hungry from their migration tour. But the first week of May is when the feeders will start to be busy and possibly claimed for a broody couple looking for easy room and board. Look for hanging nests high in Cottonwood, Elm and Maple trees. Orioles are brilliant little weavers of hanging tear drop shaped nests that they climb into to lay their eggs and raise their family.
Moving to 82 Main St, we managed to see one oriole at our feeders briefly for one day. We are hoping to get better traction this year! Good luck with your own Oriole sightings this spring!
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