The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Any day now, the cheerful whistling call of the Baltimore Oriole will come floating down through the tree tops. You have to look high to spot these birds. As Cornell says on their web page, All About Birds, “They’re most often seen perched at the tops of trees or flitting through the upper foliage in search of insects. Listen for their distinctive chatter, which is unlike the call of any other bird where orioles occur.”
Eldon and Mary Wolf in Grand River Township keep pretty close tabs on the birds in their neck of the woods. They have jelly feeders out now and I usually get a report when their orioles show up. Any day now I suspect, the flashy songbirds will return from their winter range in Central America.
“Baltimore Orioles eat insects, fruit, and nectar. The proportion of each food varies by season: in summer, while breeding and feeding their young, much of the diet consists of insects, which are rich in the proteins needed for growth. In spring and fall, nectar and ripe fruits compose more of the diet; these sugary foods are readily converted into fat, which supplies energy for migration. Baltimore Orioles eat a wide variety of insects, including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, moths, and flies, as well as spiders, snails, and other small invertebrates. They eat many pest species, including tent caterpillars, gypsy moth caterpillars, fall webworms, spiny elm caterpillars, and the larvae within plant galls. Baltimore Orioles build remarkable, sock-like hanging nests, woven together from slender fibers. The female weaves the nest, usually 3 to 4 inches deep, with a small opening, 2 to 3 inches wide, on top and a bulging bottom chamber, 3 to 4 inches across, where her eggs will rest.“ Cornell University, All about birds
Both male and female Orioles will pretty readily come to feeders that provide nectar like a hummingbird feeder or grape jelly. You can just put grape jelly in a flat saucer and they'll find it. Once the nest are built and other food sources become available, the birds usual abandon your feeder, but they put on a good show while they are there. Now is the time to give the Orioles a reason to visit your backyard.