Early Arrival

Male Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock’s orioles (Icterus bullockii) summer and breed in the hybrid poplars surrounding our house. These flame orange males with black backs and white bars provide bright flashes of color as they fly about the yard. Females are colorful in a more subdued way with yellowish bodies, grey backs and white markings. Leonard and I look forward to the orioles’ arrival each year.

Over many years the Bullock’s orioles returned to our yard on May 1st – almost like clockwork. This year we saw our first oriole on April 22nd, over a week earlier than usual. It was a pleasant surprise to have them back so soon.

Orioles eat insects and fruit and suck nectar from flowers. They also will frequent hummingbird feeders (must have a perch) and eat jelly and orange slices or other fruit left out for them. To attract the Bullock’s orioles we always put a large hummingbird feeder up before May 1st and I have orioles feeding outside my kitchen window all summer. This year the orioles were here before I got the feeder in place. As soon as the first oriole was spotted though, I got the hummingbird feeder out.

The fruit trees in our yard are currently in bloom. The orioles love the nectar in the blossoms. The bright orange and yellow birds are striking as they acrobatically feed amid the white flowers.

This Bullock’s oriole was sitting on the picnic table outside my kitchen window waiting for his turn at the hummingbird feeder. (Lookout CA/Modoc County)

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2 Responses to Early Arrival

  1. Richard Portman says:

    They just arrived here (Washington County, Utah) over the past day or two! They have a choice between hybrid poplars and Cottonwood. They like cottonwoods but seem to prefer the poplars.
    I always know they are here because i hear them days before i see one. They visit my hummingbird feeder too, but this year i also plan to offer half oranges like my neighbor does.

    • gingkochris says:

      We only rarely get a hummingbird at the feeder over the summer while the orioles are here. In mid-August when the orioles leave, the hummingbirds take over the feeder. Occasionally I will get some very inexpensive grape jelly (basically semi-solid sugar water) and set it out on a feeding platform for the orioles.They love it and wait for me to feed them every morning.

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