By Larry Czajkoski
I mentioned last month that we would be “spying an orchard” in my next article….an Orchard Oriole, that is. This male is another addition to my life list that I was able to photograph while birding in Morse Park Gardens in late May. This smallest oriole in North America is also the darkest, with a color scheme of chestnut and black that is rarely seen in songbirds. The Orchard Oriole’s song is rich, fast, and varied, with bursts of whistled notes, down slurred at the end. A master weaver, the Orchard Oriole makes a neat, round basket of green grass which later turns yellow and is suspended from the limb of a tree.
This bird is a summer visitor to many parts of North Carolina from the mountain valleys to the low country of the coastal regions. It arrives from its winter home in Central America late in April; and after spending about four months in courtship and rearing its young, it departs again for the tropics. The female of this species is an even olive-yellow overall and small enough to sometimes be confused with a warbler. She and her newly fledged young will stay here until September before heading south….so be on the lookout in an orchard or “gardens” near you.