ARTISTS AND BIRDS

       "When Food’s Free"

Bullock’s Oriole

        Do you remember seeing a local business giving away free hot dogs and drinks? Like when the food’s free and young boys (people too) eat the first hot dog with one hand while going back to the end of the line for a second and maybe a third hot dog? That’s called mobbing (the place is packed and all food is devoured). In my yard it’s oriolenot the young boys mobbing the food, it’s the birds who pile up on the feeders.

        Our Hummingbirds are sure we put the sugar water feeders up for them only, but the Finches will argue . . . the feeders are for them, so they continue to battle it out day after day. Every once in a while, if we just happen to be watching . . . in zips a Bullock’s Oriole for some of the ‘good stuff’. Their long, sharp bill makes it ‘easy pickings’. This Oriole is rarely seen because of its superb camouflage of bright orange and black. In years past, when Orioles came to our sugar water feeders, we saw them eat, then fly into a nearby canopy of leaves, and disappear. Even with some binoculars and knowing where the birds flew in, they stayed hidden. We knew they were around, but saw them only briefly. Bullock's Orioles are Neotropical migrants. When they migrate between their breeding and wintering grounds, they fly at night. Birds will arrive on the breeding grounds between March and May, and leave for the winter between July and August. Almost the entire population winters in western Mexico. The Bullock's Oriole is one of the few bird species that will puncture and eject Brown-headed Cowbirds' eggs when the eggs are deliberately left there to be raised by the Orioles.

        We hope that you will encounter a Bullock's Oriole, coming for a taste of your sugar water, and be able to enjoy the stunning beauty of this bird.

        This week’s bird was drawn by Marilyn Davis. Red Cliffs Audubon Meetings are at the Tonaquint Nature Center every 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m., and the following Saturday morning there is a Field Trip. Public is welcome. For further details, go to redcliffsaudubon.org or call 435 673-0996.

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