Farewell Orioles

Baltimore Oriole ~ Icterus galbula

It's always a sign of fall approaching when we no longer hear the Orioles. Often boisterous and chatty in late summer, adults as well as curious young juveniles check our feeders for grape jelly or hummingbird nectar before their long migration.

What an amazing neotropical migration it is, travelling from Canada to Central and South America for the winter. The most amazing part is they return in the spring to our area within a 5 day window, the average date being May 5.

I do put out grape jelly for them in the early spring around their arrival for a few weeks, they then get busy building nests and rearing young near the end of May. Their diet is insects, feeding their young many types of caterpillars and other tasty invertebrates.

The lighter colored female Orioles look for long strands of plant material to weave their nests, often old perennial stems. If you cut down and remove all your plant material in the fall, you are not leaving any potential nesting material for the orioles.

She builds an unique pendant basket nest that hangs from a tree branch. The two nests I saw this year being constructed were both next to water, hanging about 15-20 feet off the ground.

An old basket or hammock nest found in late fall, the long strands of dried plant material expertly weaved to form a sturdy support for the eggs and young.

So until next year, I hope the Orioles have a hurricane free migration south and enjoy their winter in the tropics.