Saturday, March 17, 2012

all about orioles, and a birthday life bird! (#213-216)

This is a little crazy but I actually saw FOUR species of orioles in Mexico! And three of them on the property of the resort. The even crazier thing is that I didn't actually realize it until I got know, sans guidebook I wasn't able to distinguish between hooded, altamiras and orange orioles since these birds are pretty unfamiliar to me--we really only get Baltimores and the odd Orchard around these parts! Basically all I could tell was that there were males and females, since they are pretty obviously different. I swear next time I travel I'm going to do better research ahead of time...

The differences are subtle but are definitely there:
  • The key to the orange oriole is the orange mantle
  • hooded oriole has no orange on his wing--only black and white
  • altamira has an orange but on its shoulder, and a different white spot on its beak
  • The orchard oriole is a rusty colour--that's an easy one!
Of course, those aren't the only differences, but they are easy things to look for :)

I almost didn't take this shot--Matt just kept on taking more and more and more shots of orioles until I said, "Ok, I think we have enough!" So glad we kept going though, because otherwise I wouldn't be able to count this lifer!

#213: Altamira Oriole; Mayan Riviera, Mexico (Barcelo Maya Resort) February 18, 2012

#214: Orange Oriole; Mayan Riviera, Mexico (Tulum), February 18, 2012

#215: Hooded Oriole; Mayan Riviera, Mexico (Barcelo Maya Resort) February 19, 2012
#216: Orchard Oriole; Mayan Riviera, Mexico (Barcelo Maya Resort) February 19, 2012
Funny story about this one. I had seen a painted bunting the day before, February 18, 2012. I wished I'd seen it a day later, as I wanted this special bird to be a birthday lifer (so arbitrary, I know). As we weren't seeing as many new birds at that point in the vacation, even though a little piece of me hoped for a birthday lifer, I knew it wasn't realistic. Anyways, as I was walking around the resort on February 19, I saw this bird, and thought, "it CAN'T be." Yep, it was. I took some crappy shots with my point and shoot, knowing full well that was the best I was going to get. A few hours later I headed back to the room and got the camera, and wouldn't you know, that bird was sitting literally in the same tree. And then I went back even later and it was still there! Anyways, I was extremely pleased to get myself a beautiful Orchard Oriole on my birthday :)

So in addition to these wonderful I have some other things that I have learned about orioles recently. First of all, I didn't see any of these in Mexico, but I just watched a documentary about Sian Ka'an in Mexico and they showed what an orioles nest looks like--I had no idea, but ..."The nest is a deep woven cup suspended like a hammock from a branch" this:
Here's another one, in real life:

Pretty cool right? I haven't done much yet to attract orioles to my yard, but I see feeders for them at the store, and apparently they will gladly come to visit you. Here are some tricks:
  • put out orange slices, grape jelly, fruit and berries in your yard in mid-May (Ontario)--you can hang them or place on a platform feeder. Apparently 7 feet up is ideal.
  • orioles are also known to enjoy sugar water just like that in a hummingbird feeder, but in an oriole feeder (orange)
  • plant orange flowers in your garden, or place orange decorations in your yard
  • make sure shelter is available, and your oriole station is separate from other feeders/activities. Orioles are shy birds--if you are used to seeing them, you know that you normally hear them before you see them!
  • this might seem pretty obvious but nix the insecticides/pesticides! A because it sucks and B because most birdies love insects!
I'll be trying all of the above this year!

I also saw a need little idea to help out our feather friends in the spring. Put some nesting material (yarn ends, bits of wool, etc.) in a suet feeder! Hey, maybe if you put some orange yarn in there, that could work for the orioles too :)
I FINALLY just have a post or two left from Mexico, and then it will be time to move on to spring birding. The temperatures are rising, the ground is getting muddy, the geese are on the move, the first grackles visited the yard and are squawking up a's coming soon!

Also a head's up for birding photographers, there is a photo contest for birds of Canada through Canadian Geographic. You can win a trip to Ireland. Check it out...the competition is stiff but might be worth a shot! ( pun intended....really)

back in a jiffy...cheerio!

1 comment:

dwaynejava said...

Happy Belated Birthday. What could be better than birthday lifers? :-p Nice sweep-up of the Oriole group!