Tropical beauty in Illinois

Orioles bring a splash of tropical color to our summers, when they spend a few months breeding and producing MORE Orioles!

They love citrus and it’s fairly customary for folks to provide slices of oranges (or Grape Jelly) I suppose perhaps to help them feel more at home in our northern climate.

Last autumn I learned, by chance, that offering fruit (at that time apples) in actual fruit trees seemed to be attract more birds than offering in a more artificial vessel and area like on a back patio. I carried that information forward and decided to hang sine slices of fresh, juicy mandarin oranges in the same apple tree where I had been successful filming the apple-happy birds last fall.

In exchange of the citrus gift, these splendid birds modeled for me! I consider it a very good trade.

Female Baltimore Oriole

Male Baltimore Oriole

Male Orchard Oriole (juvenile /1st year)

There’s a lot to be confused about when trying to identify these Oriole species. Here’s a couple (less quality) photos of a male Orchard Oriole that I took through the glass of my office patio doors. Notice how deep, burnt orange it is in color versus the juvenile / “first year male” bird shown above. That strictly yellow color but with the black facial markings and bib initially made me believe that the juvenile bird was a completely different species.

Male Orchard Oriole (adult)

The other difficulty I have had is recognizing the differences between the female Baltimore Oriole and the female Orchard Oriole. At first glance, it seems like it’s merely the amount of tint (orange versus greenish) in the general yellow color, which can be quite difficult to measure when the birds are not side-by-side. The Orchard The Orchard is smaller – again, without direct comparison, that is not an easy decision to make. What I have found most useful is the of the white wing bars are quite a bit wider in the Baltimore versus the Orchard. The first bird shown above looks quite yellow in many shots. But, the wing bars are quite wide compared to the female Orchard that, again, I captured through glass on the patio (she’s the famous Sunshine in the Grape Jelly Eating Contest page.)

Orchard Oriole (Female)

I hope that these lovely birds stick around for the summer and raise a nice big clutch of chicks before they head back south to the tropics where their vibrant appearance will seem quite ordinary.

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