About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

When do Orioles Migrate South?

I haven’t seen my orioles since the end of July. Where did they go? Isn’t it too early to migrate south? Should I take my oriole feeder down?

Dream Weavers
oriole female nestDSC_0157Image by ben_long_hair via FlickrBaltimore Orioles arrive at their mid-Michigan breeding grounds near the end of April. Soon after the female alone begins to build a nest. This consists of weaving and tying thousands of stitches and knots with her beak into a woven hanging-basket.
It can take as many as 15 days for her to weave a nest and the result is an engineering masterpiece of plant fiber, grasses, vine and tree bark. Orioles build the nest on small branches 6 to 45 feet in the air, to keep them safe from predators. Female orioles are also in charge when it's time to incubate the eggs and brood the young in the nest. Then both parents feed the young which fledge about 30 days from egg laying.

Orioles make only one nesting attempt per year. So depending on the success of the birds in finding mates and a nesting site, they may be done raising a new family anytime from mid-June to mid-August. That means they’re free to move around after that. Some may start down south and some adult orioles are just secretive at the end of July when they begin their fall molt and may not visit feeders.

Usually, there are a few early individuals that start migration. These are followed south by a much larger volume of migrants. Finally the peak tapers off gradually to a few lingering stragglers. Most of the bird books will tell you that they leave Michigan by mid-September but there is no set schedule and I'd leave your feeder up a little while longer, just in case.

Related article: Migration of Birds: When Birds Migrate http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/migratio/when.htm
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Colleen said...

I live in Colchester, Ontario not far from Lake Erie. I am new at learning more about bird habits. My neighbour who has lived here for many years told me that the orioles in our area come in late April, early May and feed and nest in our area until the end of June, first week of July and when it gets very hot they leave and go out to the orchards. I thought they didn't come back at all but this week I had one sighting of one male oriole and then today saw two male orioles looking for food where I had normally had some. I quickly made some nectar, put out some orange halves and are hoping that they come back. I was wondering if I have come back because we are not really having much of a hot summer this year. I would be interested in hearing comments from all.

Rozee said...

My oriels had young! I am in Otter Lake, Michigan. I have never had oriels here so long. At least four visit daily. Today is August 28, 20015. They are such fun to watch. I will miss them when they leave. It is usually mid-July when I stop seeing them. This year has been a bonus!

teresa2845 said...

Rochester Hills Michigan here and usually we get them in Spring but then they just disappear in June and July so I got tired of wasting the juice, fruit and jelly and stopped putting it out, I figured they found something better.
Then a couple weeks ago my humming bird feeders were getting more action then usual. And sure enough it was the Orioles. One of the humming bird feeders has bigger holes then normal and thats the one they were on. Fighting the bees to get something.
So I put their feeder back out, they liked that but still fed of the humming bird feeders too.
Of course I knew the male by his color, but it seemed like there were 3 females but then I realized that was probably the mother and 2 babies.
I also think maybe they were drinking that sugar water to prepare for migration.
The humming birds didn't seem too happy about the new addition to their feeders. lol And the bees are terrible. I don't know how to deter them.

Anonymous said...

We've had beautiful Orioles here in south central MN all summer. First there was a pair that came late April, then they disappeared for a short time. I thought perhaps they'd moved on. But I kept putting nectar & grape jelly out and soon I saw the male, then his lady. Wasn't long before mama brought one of the youngsters to the feeder and stuffed the baby full of jelly. As the babies matured -- I only saw two but there may have been more -- the entire family continued to visit. Until the last few days, I haven't seen them. And there's plenty of jelly left at the end of the day, although a few of the red finches like to snack on it. So I suspect the Orioles have moved on for the season. Can't wait to see them in the spring!

Anonymous said...

I live on the west coast of mid- Michigan a few miles from Lake Michigan, and as of about one week ago from today (Aug. 3, 2016) they have seemed to have begun their migration south which is fairly typical here as I haven't observed much activity since then. Yes, they do seem to spend more time at the hummingbird feeders up to then, and probably for packing on the calories for their long flight to the south.
And yes, the Yellow Jackets have been very aggressive this year on the feeders and perhaps may have contributed to their absence at the feeders as well. So I placed a Yellow Jacket trap a couple of feet away and presto, no more Yellow Jackets! I also hang above the feeders Trap-it (brand) water-filled ant traps that do a fabulous job of not only keeping the ants out, but also the birds enjoy drinking from them. The traps are available on Amazon and are very reasonably priced as well. Looking forward to seeing them and their antics again next Spring as well!

Anonymous said...

I live in London ontario, and this year has been awesome as well. They always arrive first of may, feed heavy into June, then I don't see them for a while, at least a few weeks.this is because they are busy feeding their babies. Normally, they ease off the feeders somewhat to stick to a diet of insects, to feed their babies with lots of protein. But this summer, they seemed more abundant every day.
Then after this period, I begin to see the babies at my feeders as well. the best thing was watching 2 babies play and splash in my bird bath. I had more than normal this year, and the last one I saw was into the first week of sept. Best year ever, cant wait till next May to watch this amazing cycle begin again!!!