First time observation of Orioles in the backyard

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#1
About a month ago we received a surprise visit to the hummingbird feeder. It was a bird with striking yellow body color with black markings, about the size of a blackbird actually and what confused us he was drinking out of the hummingbird feeder. He returned a couple more times in the days following and I had a chance to tentatively identify him as an Oriole, a bird I don't recall seeing in our 12 years at our current home, for that matter, I can't remember at any time in the past where I have seen this bird anywhere. Not easy to forget because of the bold yellow body, needless to say, he created quite a stir down here.

The following week two different Orioles showed up at the feeder and it was clear to me one was male and the other female, a nesting pair we figured. I thought the original Oriole was bigger than the male that showed up with the female, but I guess I could have confused the two with all the excitement seeing them for the first time. I quickly got out my camera and realized I had to set up a remote trigger with a tripod because they flew off at any hint of movement, even when we were in the house.

I referred to a couple bird books and the best I could tell, they are Hooded Orioles.

I shot the attached photo through a window using a wireless trigger, Canon 70-200mm f/4L lens, Canon 1.4x extender and tripod mounted Canon T4i.
 

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#2
Good photo. Another of my California motorcycle buddies who lives near Salinas gets these orioles at his seed feeder. I have also seen photos of them poaching sugar water at hummingbird feeders like the birds in your photo.

The Cornell site is a very good one for info on US birds. Checking the map, you are in their breeding range. The site also recommends sugar water and sliced oranges to attract them to your backyard.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hooded_Oriole/overview
 
#3
Thanks Bill, looks like I need to subscribe to the bird guide, the Cornell site is very comprehensive, but I wonder if they offer a book or a few volumes instead of EBooks? I can see by the map they are here this time of year because of breeding, I can only say I haven't seen them before because we move into a new neighborhood about every 10 years. Neighborhoods void of mature trees and landscaping, however, at our first new home up here we lived in E. Roseville and there were many oak trees that dotted the development. It was common to see Magpies since they are attracted to oak trees, but I haven't seen a Magpie in 23 years because where we moved a couple times since had no oak trees to support them.

I will be building a platform soon to offer up sliced oranges to the Orioles and I hear they also like grape jelly, time for a shopping trip to the grocery store. The only thing I don't like about jelly, according to a video I watched of Orioles scarfing down grape jelly, were the number of yellow jackets liking the jelly too. Maybe I'll load up my yellow jacket trap with jelly and see what happens. The Orioles in the video seemed to just ignore them and a couple times snapped back, unlike hummingbirds, they fly off when a yellow jacket starts buzzing their feeder.

I hate yellow jackets and the traps Home Depot sells has the wrong attracting agent in them, not once have I caught a yellow jacket with one, but one time I put a piece of bacon in the trap and that worked. I think these recent jackets might be a different species, something about them is different and they don't go for turkey bait, nor did they go for sugar water in the trap. I swore off bacon a couple years ago so I don't have that around anymore. These yellow jackets are very aware of their surroundings, they sense me sneaking up on them with rolled paper in hand. When I get lucky enough to swat one, they just don't fall down dead, they are very robust and you have to smash them with a hard object to make sure. I feel like smashing them with a sledgehammer.
 

squirl033

Super Moderator
Staff member
#4
Hooded orioles are very uncommon in the PNW... A friend who lives in Renton had one in her yard last year, and it was only the 11th verified sighting in Washington state. They normally stay well south, in Arizona, SoCal, Nevada and New Mexico...

Edit: Just realized you're actually in California... not such a rare visitor, then. Still a good catch, though!
 


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