BACKYARD SECRET—GEORGIA IS HOME TO THE SMALLEST ORIOLE IN NORTH AMERICA

       The orchard oriole is the smallest oriole in North America. Since the bird nests throughout the entire state, we get to enjoy it in our backyards from spring into the summer.

       Orchard orioles are early migrants.  My first orchard oriole of the year arrived in my yard just a couple of days ago. Unfortunately for those of us that enjoy watching the colorful birds, many begin migrating southward as early as late July.

       Due to its small size, orchard orioles are sometimes mistaken for large warblers. Orchard orioles measure 7.25-7.5 in length.  A photograph of an adult female accompanies this blog.  The adult male has a totally different plumage.  Its plumage features a black back, hood and chest and chestnut-colored underparts.

       One thing I really like about the orchard oriole is that it sings a lot.  I cannot adequately describe the song. However, the Father of Bird Watching, Roger Tory Peterson, described the song as, “… a fast-moving outburst interspersed with piping whistles and guttural notes.”  Once you see and hear an orchard oriole singing it is easy to identify from then on.

       Although the bird’s primary foods are nectar, berries, fruit, and seeds, it will also consume white bread, cut fruit, and suet.  It also often drinks nectar from trumpet creeper flowers.  In addition, it also feeds at hummingbird feeders.

       I have been fortunate to have orchard orioles nest in my yard a number of times. Whenever this happens I get see them on a daily basis.  I hope a pair decides to nest in your yard so that you can become better acquainted with this fascinating bird.

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