Oriole Buffet

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Every spring the orioles show up at the ranch the first week of May.  I make a point to hang out a sugar-water feeder the last day of April in anticipation of their arrival.   In Northwest Colorado, we are frequented by one species of oriole- the Bullock's Oriole, which is similar in appearance and call to the Baltimore Oriole.  The Bullock's is found mainly in the west, while the Baltimore is the oriole of the east and midwest.  Because the two species sometimes hybridize where their ranges overlap, they were at one time lumped together as one species- the Northern Oriole. Then the powers-to-be of the ornithological world decided that they were actually two separate species, after all. The Bullock's Oriole is a stunner- the male is bright orange-gold in color with white wing-bars and a black throat.

male oriole at full feeder.jpg

The female is a paler orange and lacks the black on the throat. 

female oriole.jpg


Once the first oriole appears at the feeder (always a male), I put out the whole oriole buffet.  In addition to the nectar feeder, I provide orange halves in a suet feeder and grape jelly in a dish.  The orioles are voracious eaters and will sit in the tree and chatter at me to replenish the buffet if it starts to run low. 

oriole buffet.jpg

I have had as many as 4 orioles waiting their turn at the buffet line. (Actually, they don't wait politely, they butt in line whenever they see an opportunity.)  In addition to sugar-water, jelly, and oranges, the Bullock's Oriole consumes protein in the form of insects, which are plentiful everywhere on the ranch. 


 A short time after their arrival, the orioles begin building their incredible hanging pouch nests around the ranch.  They usually place their nests in cottonwood trees at the end of a slender branch.  They nests are well-hidden in the foliage, so that it isn't until fall (and long after the babies have fledged) that we are able to determine where they have nested.                                                       

oriole nest 2.jpg


From the time of their arrival, throughout the nesting season,  until they depart at the end of the summer, they continue to frequent the oriole buffet and continue to dazzle us with their brilliant color.

  Male Bullock's.jpg


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This page contains a single entry by Nancy published on May 10, 2009 3:33 PM.

The Colors of Mud Season was the previous entry in this blog.

Waxing Eloquent Over Waxwings is the next entry in this blog.

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