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Orioles are one of the most brightly coloured birds in North America. They migrate south for the winter, returning when the snow melts, and bird lovers wait anxiously for the first sight of them. They are so spectacularly coloured that social media pages and birder groups become filled with images and announcements as these beautiful birds make their way north. Bird lovers will have their feeders ready, able to predict the actual day that their beloved little friends will arrive.
Orioles flock to backyard feeders with brightly coloured fruit and snacks. They love oranges cut open, grapes, and even grape jelly. They feed in a unique way, inserting their beaks into the orange and opening the beak to create a trough. This is referred to as "gaping". As juice fills the trough, they slurp it up. The orioles line up in the trees nearby, taking turns at the fruit or the feeder. For the most magnificent display, nature lovers will fill a tree or bush with orange halves stuck on the branches.
The song of the oriole is striking as well, audible for a mile or more as the birds sing to attract other orioles.
Like many backyard birds, the orioles gather around a water feature such as a pond and they delight in splashing around in the shallows. They will preen and soak for a few minutes as this happy little fellow is doing. Even though he is having a wonderful time, he is keeping a watchful eye on the skies above. Songbirds are well aware that predators such as hawks and kites will be keeping their eye on the feeders and ponds, waiting for a chance to snag an easy meal.
This oriole is a male. The females are slightly orange, with more brown, and similar markings. Not as brightly coloured, the females are similar in size and appearance, with less vivid plumage. They are often more dominant at the feeder, chasing males away so that they can eat first.
Orioles are easy to attract to a back yard and a wonder to watch. They are also very likely to return to a feeding spot for many years. It is well worth keeping them happy and well fed so that they show up year after year.
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