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, March 20, 2012

Where are the orioles?

I live near Millersburg, Mi. which is 32 miles east of Indian River. The last two years we have had Orioles feed at our jelly feeder and nest in the area.  Both years in July, the young was feeding themselves when we had an electrical storm with high winds and the Orioles disappeared. Is this normal?

I always say orioles are the last to arrive in the spring and first to leave in the summer. They usually hit my mid-Michigan feeder at the beginning of May with a big song and dance. I have my feeder on the window at the East Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited store and he'll sing right to the customers when he's happy and give me the look if I haven't had a chance to fill his jelly wells.

Then in June his visits are less frequent as he's busy incubating eggs and then sourcing out bugs for his babies and only stops by occasionally for a quick bite.

In July he becomes more secretive. As Baltimore Oriole babies become independent, parents begin their fall molt and are more susceptible to predators as they grow a new set of feathers. Peak migration is August and September but some begin as early as July if they are done nesting.

Besides molting, birds also have to fatten up before they leave and wait for just the right weather conditions. Birds have internal barometers and can actually feel changes in air pressure in their inner ear. When a storm approaches, the air pressure goes down and the birds eat a lot more in anticipating of bad weather. Then these smart birds will take advantage of the strong tailwinds for the long journey south.

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

Related Articles:


Mike G said...

Had a report of an immature oriole SW of Fowlerville on Sunday

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

I can't wait for the orioles. I'm watching the goldfinches change color and the chickadees battling for territories with song. I love to wake up to the titmice and robins singing. It's a beautiful spring day! Sarah

Dee said...

I put my Oriole feeder out yesterday (in Oxford) in hopes to "bring'em in a little early"! Last year first sighting was around April 28, but we also still had snow on the ground on April 3! I always get Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at the same time as the Orioles, so I can't wait!! :)

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

I've never seen an oriole before May but I've never had so many blooming flowers in March either. So it won't hurt to put out the feeder early! Sarah

Alison said...

Nice flock of cedar waxwings passed through south of Jackson today.