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Thursday, May 3, 2012

And here come the orioles!

I was mulching some beds in the front yard this morning when I heard a "chuk" followed by a melodious song coming from my magnolia tree in the backyard. I immediately recognized it at an oriole song, but, for just a moment, I couldn't remember if it was an Orchard or a Baltimore Oriole. Then my brain cramp cleared and I remembered. Yes, it was the Orchard Oriole, smallest member of that family that visits us and certainly one of the most welcome.

This is not a particularly good picture, but at least you can see the brick red and black pattern of the bird's coloring which is very distinctive. The Orchard is more conservatively colored than some of its cousins, including the Baltimore and the Altamira, but even so, it is flashy enough to leave no question as to which family it belongs. Also, notice that strong, black beak and think of the Red-winged Blackbird. Yes, blackbirds, too, are cousins of orioles although you might never guess it by some of their raucous "songs"!

Red-winged Blackbird, for comparison.

And this lovely bird you would almost think is a separate species altogether, but, in fact, it is a female Orchard Oriole. I caught her with my camera at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge just about a year ago. I didn't see one of these today because they don't announce their presence like the males, but I suspect there are some around. These birds generally nest in my neighborhood, although as far as I know, I've never had one nest in my yard. But hope springs eternal in the Backyard Birder's heart! 


  1. Wonderful pictures! I've seen Orioles migrate in the fall, but never in the Spring.

    1. And I'm just the opposite, Steph. I see them in spring but almost never in fall.