The Orioles Are Coming

We have a small deck off of our kitchen where I hang our bird feeders. This allows us to draw them in close enough to actually see them when they come to eat. Visitors to our house in late spring and summer are often startled at the appearance of this fellow:

The Baltimore Oriole. Because of their extremely bright colors, these are some of the coolest birds to attract to your feeders. And of course kids are always excited to see a bright orange bird. Fortunately, it’s super easy to get them to come. We just put a shallow dish of grape jelly on the ledge of the deck around when the trees are just starting to leaf out and they show up within a couple of days. The brightly colored males show up first and the more muted females join them within a week or less. These birds tend to return to the same nests each summer, so once you attract a pair (or more) they will return year after year. Later in the summer, they will even bring their scraggly looking kids with them to nip from the jelly dish.

If you’re lucky, your jelly dish may even attract a gray catbird as the summer wears on:

These aren’t nearly as flashy as Orioles, but they’re so elegant. I just love them. They’re more reclusive than many other birds, so getting one onto your deck is kind of neat. Once they decide that they’ve found a safe source of food, they get kind of greedy and you’ll find yourself refilling the jelly dish more often. They also have an unusual call which you’ll come to recognize.

Aside from jelly you can also put out orange halves or buy feeders which take nectars for Orioles, Catbirds and the like. But grape jelly is much cheaper and works very well so I’ve never bothered.

You can watch the migration of Orioles and other migrating birds and insects here. That link is to the Journey North website which tracks signs of spring moving northward. It also has an easy form to fill out to report when various signs of spring show up in your neck of the woods, which can be a neat activity for your kids to participate in.

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