Bird Identification – Orchard Oriole

Fortunately many other birds besides this oriole prefer to live in orchards; otherwise think how many worm-eaten apples there would be! He usually has the kingbird for company, and, strange to say, keeps on friendly terms with that rather exclusive fellow; also the robin, the bluebird, the cedar waxwing and several other feathered neighbours who show a preference for fruit trees when it is time to nest. You may know the orchard oriole’s cradle by its excellent weaving. It is not a deep, swinging pouch, like the Baltimore oriole’s, but a well-rounded cup, more like a vireo’s, formed of grasses of nearly even length and width, cut green and woven with far more skill and precision than a basket made by a boy or a girl is apt to be. Look for it near the end of a limb, ten to twenty feet up. It is by no means easily seen when the green, grassy cup matches the colour of the leaves.

The mother oriole is so harmoniously dressed in grayish olive green, more yellowish underneath, that you may scarcely notice her as she glides among the trees; but her mate is more conspicuous, however quietly dressed in black and reddish chestnut—even somberly dressed as compared with his flashy orange and black cousin, the Baltimore oriole. Nevertheless, it takes him two, or possibly three years to attain his fine clothes. By that time his song is rich, sweet and strong.

Do orioles generally take special delight in the music of a piano? An orchard oriole who used to come close to our house to feed on the basket worms dangling from a tamarix bush, returned long after the last worm had been eaten whenever someone touched the keys. And I have known more than one Baltimore oriole to fly about the house, joyously singing, as if attracted and excited by the music in-doors.