Natural Sightings #587 - Bullock's Oriole.jpg

Bullock's Orioles are migratory songbirds that spend the winter in Mexico or farther south, and then they migrate back to the U.S. by the millions in April and May.

Jessica Martin took this photo in her backyard in Bear Valley Springs of a male Bullock's Oriole.

Bullock's Orioles (Icterus bullockii) are migratory songbirds that spend the winter in Mexico or farther south, and then they migrate back to the U.S. by the millions in April and May.

These colorful birds often appear at hummingbird feeders to sip nectar, since they too like the sugar water that Tehachapi area residents put out for hummingbirds. If you suspend a flat pan or plate from a tree and leave some fruit on it, you may also attract orioles to come and have grapes, orange wedges, etc.

Orioles are chattery, vocal birds, and they have both a pleasant song and then a harsher, scolding call. Interestingly, female orioles like to sing and call as much as the males, which is uncommon in songbirds.

Orioles weave interesting pendulous nests that they typically hide among thin, flexible branches that are furthest from the trunk of trees. This helps make the nests harder for climbing predators to access.

Orioles aren't seed eaters, but instead eat a variety of insects, including caterpillars, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, small spiders and the like. And as I noted, they also love fruit and nectar. Sometimes they stick their sharp pointed bills into ripe fruit, then spread their bill to create an opening, and lap up the sweet pooling juice with the brushy tip on the end of their tongue, which they also use to drink nectar.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.

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