Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Get ready for the orioles!
Migrant hooded orioles generally start arriving in Southern California in early March to breed during spring and summer.
Hooded and Bullock’s orioles are the two most common species of orioles found in Orange County, although there have been rare sightings of Scott’s and orchard orioles in previous years.
Orioles are medium-size songbirds about 8 inches long with slender bodies and long legs and tails. They are coveted among backyard birders mostly because of their bright colors. Hooded and Bullock’s orioles are sexually dimorphic, with males being more brightly colored than females.
Hooded orioles are named for the orange hood of the male’s breeding plumage. Males have an entirely orange or orange-yellow head, nape, rump and underparts with a distinctive black bib and narrow mask. The tail is black. And wings are black with with two white wingbars. Females are mostly olive yellow with dusky gray wings and white wingbars. These birds have long, slightly curved bills.
Adult male Bullock’s are flame-orange with a neat line through the eye and a white wing patch; females are washed in gray and yellow. They have straight, pointed bills.
Oriole feeders are often orange because manufacturers know the birds are attracted to the color. Nectar feeders made especially for orioles can better accommodate the larger birds by providing longer perches and bigger feeding ports than are typically seen on hummingbird feeders.
Orioles have a sweet tooth with an affinity for grape jelly and cut oranges.
Insects are also an important part of their diet. Attract orioles by planting native shrubs with berries or flowering plants that invite caterpillars, one of their favorite foods. And encourage nesting by delaying trimming dead palm fronds until fall.