Yesterday’s surplus of yellow is followed today by an appreciation of the brilliant orange of the Baltimore Oriole.
I discovered this bird foraging very low to the ground on a cold spring day. He was so intent on his foraging that he paid no attention to me.
Baltimore Orioles are common throughout the eastern half of the U.S. in the spring and summer, and their bright orange plumage lights up the green foliage. They are agile feeders on fruits and berries, as well as insects.
This bird seemed to be finding some minute critters crawling around on the loose bark of dead stems.
And he was willing to go to great lengths to get at whatever was there.
But in the spring during their northward migration, they seem to be drawn to oranges and nectar, so as soon as I saw this oriole in a park, I put a feeder out in my yard. Two days later, several orioles showed up.
There was a little hostility over who got to use the feeder. The female on top eventually gave up her position to the male. I never realized what pretty tail feathers the male has.
Females get more orange with age, and are almost as bright as the male, but lack the distinctive black head and face. This was shot in early morning light, so the colors are a bit off, but you can see that she matches the color of the orange well. I don’t know if this is a mated pair — they weren’t very friendly toward one another.
The Buckeye tree in the backyard is just about to flower, and when it does, orioles and warblers will feast on its nectar. You can read more about that in posts from last year.
The adult male plumage looks like this, but males don’t reach this stage of color perfection until the fall molt of their second year. First year males (born the previous year) look like females, with some blacker coloration on their heads. If they are lucky, they may breed during the first year, but often aren’t pretty enough to attract a female.