by Steve White
Weirs Times Contributing Writer
For many backyard birders, the arrival of the Baltimore oriole is the final sign that spring has arrived. Males usually arrive in the Lakes Region around the last week in April or the first week in May. Once they have selected a territory, they sing almost continuously during the daylight hours. Their beautifully whistled, almost fluke-like song includes a trademark phrase that sounds like; “Here, Here, Come right here dear.”
Orioles build hanging nests that crafters crave for. The gray nests, typically lined with horsehair and fine grasses, are intricately woven from plant fibers. Oriole nests are usually high up in trees, around 25-30 feet off the ground, and are placed near the tips of hanging branches. Because their locations are hidden among thick summer foliage, oriole nests are best discovered in fall and winter when the leaves drop.
Females build the nests and lay four to six white eggs. Young nestlings remain at the bottom of the hanging basket-style nest but as they grow up, crawl up the side to receive food from the parents.
Orioles feed on a variety of insects including many pest species such as gypsy moths, tent caterpillars and webworms. They also feed on mulberries, blackberries, wild cherries, and wild plums.
These striking birds can be readily attracted to orange halves held in place on a nail or tree branch. Orange suet served in standard suet cages can be useful to keeping your orioles interested in your backyard all summer long. For the best results, consider the offering of grape jelly in a cup or saucer. The sweet taste will also attract mockingbirds, warblers, and catbirds.
The Baltimore Oriole was named after Lord Baltimore who settled in a colony in Chesapeake Bay. At this New World location, this British Lord found a bird that matched his black and orange crest on his coat of arms. In reality, the oriole is a member of the blackbird family.
These regal birds leave our New Hampshire region in September and head to their winter grounds in South America. Many of these birds are now seen overwintering in certain regions of southern United States.
Enjoy your birds!
Wild Bird Depot is located on Rt 11 in Gilford, NH. Steve White is a contributing author in major publications, a guest lecturer at major conventions in Atlanta and St. Louis as well as the host of WEZS 1350AM radio show “Bird Calls” with Lakes Region Newsday @ 8:30AM. Wild Bird Depot has donated over $5,000 to local rehabilitators and local nature centers since 1996. Be sure to check out our blog “Bird Droppings” via our website www.wildbirddepot.com. Like us on Facebook for great contests and prizes.