About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Elusive Baltimore oriole

Why after the young hatch, do you rarely see the orioe again till the following spring? Thank you

The answer may be as simple as your orioles have already left the area and are headed south. I always say orioles are the last to arrive in the spring and first to leave in the summer.

Baltimore Orioles usually hit my mid-Michigan feeder at the beginning of May with a big song and dance. Then in June his visits are less frequent as he's busy incubating eggs and sourcing out bugs for his babies and only stops by occasionally for a quick bite.

In July he becomes more secretive. As their babies become independent, parents begin their fall molt and are more susceptible to predators while they grow a new set of feathers. Some are ready to migrate south as early as July! Peak migration is August and September when most orioles are done nesting.

Besides molting, birds also have to fatten up before they leave. It's been really dry in our area. No rain means fewer bugs and I have been hearing customers tell me that the orioles have been hitting the orange suet pretty hard this year. They also like nuts and mealworms.

Then they wait for just the right tailwinds for the long journey south. On average, they probably travel about 150 miles each night in flocks, flying at about 20 miles per hour. If the weather is favorable, it will take an oriole about 2-3 weeks to complete his migration.

October through February most orioles hang out in the tropics and in March and April some orioles begin moving north again to reach my window again by May.

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