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Welcome Back Orioles

In early May I look forward to the arrival of the Baltimore oriole. After weeks of concern, imagining that they may have perished in the terrible storms of the southern states during their travels back, they finally arrive. They are usually back before the leaves are on the trees, do some mating and then begin building their beautiful hanging nests among the emerging leaves.

For years I had a pair nest in an old maple tree close to the house. They paid no attention to me as they raised their family, and their offspring continue to entertain me year after year.

Orioles can be encouraged to the yard by placing oranges sliced in half on a feeder post. Often the orioles will consume an orange a day by sipping out the juice and consuming the pulp. Syrup feeders hanging in trees or placed on poles also work well. I use the same syrup recipe for orioles as for hummingbirds.

The male oriole flashes colours of orange, black and white. Females are a soft-yellow colour with tinges of green, although the patterns and colours vary with region and mixing of species. She lays four or five white eggs in a bag-like nest. The nests in my area are colourful with little pieces of orange, blue and brown baler twine woven among plant fibre, hair and down. If anyone gets within six metres of the nest, the male begins to scold and chatter piercingly to draw attention away from the nest and his mate.

The yard is extremely noisy for several days when the babies fledge the nest while the adults continue to feed the young. Until the young orioles learn to fly and remain safely in the trees, the family farm cat takes his annual holiday in the tool shed for a few days.

Then one day in early September, the orioles will leave and begin their long migration to the northern part of South America.

Oriole Syrup

1/2 c. white sugar

1 c. water In a small bowl microwave the

sugar and water for two minutes. Allow to cool before pouring into plastic feeders.

Make a fresh batch as needed, or keep in the fridge. Do not leave syrup in the feeder for more than one week.

– Lillian Deedman writes from Killarney, Manitoba

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