Friday, June 11, 2010

Baltimore Oriole in the garden

The feeders in our habitat garden have been primarily populated by red-winged blackbirds and house finches. But today a new, brilliantly-colored orange bird arrived in the garden. We thought at first that it was a Bullock's Oriole, but on closer inspection we realized it is a Baltimore Oriole, Icterus galbula. The completely black head was the main clue to our identification. We are on the very edge of its migration range so this is not a common sight here.
Orioles are omnivores and are known to eat caterpillars, fruits, insects, spiders, and nectar. They make very unique nests. They are gourd-shaped and woven from hair, plant fibers, and synthetic fibers. Their nests hang by the rim from thin branches or a fork in a tall tree. They lay 3 - 7 eggs, which they incubate for 11 - 14 days. Chicks are helpless when they hatch, and will fledge in another 11 - 14 days.
Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website for more info on this magnificent bird.

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