Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The great oriole invasion of 2013

(Cross-posted from Backyard Birder.)

My garden is currently experiencing a remarkable invasion of Baltimore Orioles. There is a smattering of Orchard Orioles as well, but mostly it's Baltimores. It started last Friday when I noticed the first one in the yard. After that, I filled my oriole feeder with nectar and put an orange half on it and hung it on a crape myrtle tree near my patio. Since then I've had a constant stream of the brilliant visitors.

My next door neighbor has hung her oriole feeder as well and, between our two yards, it is common to see a dozen or more of the brightly colored birds at once. I find this quite amazing since I've never had more than one or two orioles at a time on migration in the past. Whatever confluence of events has worked to bring these visitors my way this spring, I am enjoying them tremendously and when I think of this season it will be as the "Time of the Orioles." 

It's not uncommon to see several birds waiting for a turn at the feeders. There were a couple more in the tree in addition to the three that you see here.


Sometimes they don't wait very patiently. When they squabble, their voices sound much like their cousins, the Red-winged Blackbirds, but when they sing, their melodic phrases sound more robin-like.  


 This was the victor in one squabble


Meanwhile, a pretty female waits her turn.


 These two males were almost able to share an orange.


 This female is hoping that male will leave some for her.


There is quite a bit of variation in the colors of the females. Some are quite brightly colored while others are duller.


 Patience pays off! She gets her turn at the orange.


 There is a lot of variation in color among the males as well. Some of the younger males that I've shown you previously, like the first one I saw Friday, are less brilliantly colored. Even older males like these two can appear different - as you see, the bottom bird is quite yellow, while the top bird is bright orange.



I noticed the orioles visiting my hummingbird feeders as well, so I removed the bee guards from one of them to make access to the nectar a little easier for the birds. Of course, these feeders are not built to accommodate birds as large as orioles, but this female has perfected her technique for feeding from them. 


 Here is the classic pose - a brilliantly colored adult male.


And a female - just as attractive with her softer coloration.

I don't know how long this invasion will last, but I'm prepared to provide fresh oranges and nectar for as long as it does.

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