Oriole Fallout — in Rhyme (by Jan Runyan)

Normally at this time of year we would be traveling much of the time, both teaching and chasing birds.  In May our time at home is short and usually includes doing laundry, mowing, repacking and doing as much garden work as we can squeeze in.  This year, because we kept our “social distance” at home, we got to experience an amazing avian event.

Last winter was warm, but spring was late and, not long after it started, we had a several-day cold snap with nighttime temperatures in the mid-20s.  A flight of Baltimore Orioles had migrated north to the Upper Ohio River Valley before the Arctic blast brought this unusual cold and caused the birds’ insect food to be extremely limited.  They found the hummingbird feeders which I had recently put out, but as more orioles arrived we knew we needed to help these warm-weather friends more. 

They immediately found a dish of jam I put out … and very soon it was empty.   I searched our unused bird feeders in the garage for ideas to help me make more feeders and I added 5 new, unusual ones out back and out the bird window along with more nectar feeders.  They finished 3 big jars of jelly and jam. A few birds even made use of the bark butter and suet feeders.

As the weather warmed a bit, we opened our bird banding nets.  We had seen as many as 10 orioles at one time, but banded 16 birds, so we probably had between 20 and 30 birds making use of our feeders. Although there are still a few Baltimore Orioles around now, most of them have moved on since the weather has warmed. We had a wonderfully fun week with lots of time to watch and photograph these usually rare visitors to Goldfinch Ridge.

 This blog is heavy on videos because we wanted to share the bustle and antics of the orioles.  The videos may take a little while to load the first time, but then they should go smoothly.  The white pieces flying by are not Spring cherry blossom petals, but snowflakes. 

If you watch carefully, you may catch an occasional glimpse of our Eastern Bluebirds going in and out of their box on the Black Locust tree and even eating from the bark butter log.  Other kinds of birds join the feast or fly through, too.  And you might even hear the clicking of the shutter of Bill’s camera, too, as we shared space at our bird window.

Why poetry?  It just seemed right!


Oriole Fallout — in Rhyme May, 2020

Baltimore Or-i-oles
Freezing their toes-i-oles.

Baltimore Oriole on a snowy stump (photo (c) Bill Beatty)

Returning from the climes
Of palm trees and limes.

(photo (c) Jan Runyan)

Knew they had a date
To come north and mate.

(photos (c) Bill Beatty)

The Orioles were bold
But then it turned COLD

Baltimore Orioles in snow with frozen birdbath (video (c) Jan Runyan) 

They followed their leaders
to the hummingbird feeders.

(photo (c) Jan Runyan)

One nectar feeder wasn’t enough,
They needed more stuff.

(video (c) Jan Runyan) 

We put out jams and jellies
To fill up their bellies.

(photo (c) Bill Beatty)
Tray with jelly — full, but soon empty (photo (c) Jan Runyan)
Jam seed in the bill (photo (c) Jan Runyan)

Feeders of every kind

(photo (c) Jan Runyan)
(photo (c) Bill Beatty)
(video (c) Jan Runyan)

The Orioles were quick to find. 

(photo (c) Bill Beatty )
(photo (c) Bill Beatty)
(video (c) Jan Runyan) 

The temperatures were chilling
But the people were willing.

(photo (c) Jan Runyan)
(photo (c) Bill Beatty)

No feeder ran low –
The birds put on a show.

(video (c) Jan Runyan)
(video (c) Jan Runyan)

All the week long
We helped them along. 

(video (c) Jan Runyan)
(video (c) Jan Runyan)

It was quite a sight!
Dreams of Orioles tonight!

(photo (c) Jan Runyan)
(photo (c) Bill Beatty)

2 thoughts on “Oriole Fallout — in Rhyme (by Jan Runyan)

  1. This was a WONDERFUL story. Thanks so much for sharing. We’ve had a B.O. in the winter who loves grape jelly and we named him Cal Ripkin.


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