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Conservation-They’re Back!!! By: Kevin Williams, Grundy County Conservation Director

May 10, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
My oldest son, Seth, texted me last Wednesday that my granddaughter, Sydney, had spotted an oriole on the deck that morning. His instructions to her was to cut an orange and put it out on the table to hopefully keep it around or at least to enjoy for a few days before it moved on. I hadn’t seen an oriole in our yard yet this spring but did cut an orange and place it out on our oriole feeder the next morning. It was only two days later, on Saturday, when I walked around the corner of the house that I was greeted with a flash of a black and orange male flying from the feeder. Our orioles were back. I wait for the sound of a male oriole each and every spring. The beautiful orange and black Northern Oriole had retuned again to our yard. I listened to him several times that afternoon. He was singing his heart out. As it turns out, the female was already around, as well because they both were at the feeder Sunday morning. We have had a Northern Oriole pair nest somewhere in our yard almost every year for the 34 years that we have lived there. If memory serves me correctly, we have had only two years where orioles did not nest in our yard somewhere in the trees. Sometimes I don’t locate the hanging basket of a nest until the leaves fall from the trees in the fall though. They weave a wonderful basket from plant fibers, horse hair, etc. One fall, after the leaves left I was treated to a blue tinted nest. It turned out that the parents had located an old blue poly tarp that was disintegrating and had used some strips from that. Now that was a tough nest! I am not going to say that it has been the same pair that has nested all of those years. In fact, I can say with almost certainty that it is not. The first year that I did not have a nesting pair in my yard was the year that the male sang and sang his heart out for several days and I never saw a female around. After a few days of that, I even came home to observe him flying down to my truck side door mirror and fluttering in front of his reflection for a few moments and then returning to his branch. A few more days and then he was gone. The yard felt a little bit vacant that summer. Thirty-four years in the wild would be an awfully old pair of orioles. A lot can happen to you if you’re an oriole living in an Iowa backyard. Couple that with the fact that they travel to Central American rainforests for the winter and making one return trip seems pretty incredible. An amazing 333 bird species are like this – they are called neotropical migrants. But happily, I can look forward to the song of the Northern Oriole again this summer as I work in the garden or sit on the deck as they go about the process of rearing another brood of young. Young, that if they are as lucky as their parents will have a trip to Central America to make this fall.

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