Orioles: Dream Weavers

Many of us dream of having an oriole take up residence in our yard or neighborhood.
To behold a brilliant-colored male, serenading us with its uplifting whistle, is truly a cause for celebration!
Baltimore Oriole
Out of nine possible U.S. species, the Bullock’s and Baltimore are the most common. In our region, we have Baltimore and Orchard Orioles. These orioles construct one of the most amazing and complicated nests of any North American bird. Looking like a small gourd-shaped pouch hanging from the tip of a thin branch, these nests are skillfully woven out of hundreds of single fibers … one at a time.

The female oriole is the primary engineer and fabricator, but males occasionally plays the role of foreman, supplying materials and conducting inspections while the nest is under construction. Female orioles do most of the nest building and are the only one to incubate and brood, while both parents feed the young which fledge about 30 days from egg laying.

Oriole nests are woven with thousands of stitches and the tying of thousands of knots, all done solely with its beak. Orioles take as many as 15 days to weave their nests and the results are engineering masterpieces – woven hanging-basket nests made of plant fiber, grasses, vine and tree bark. While nests are typically woven out of plant fibers such as strips of milkweed stem, man-made items, such as string and yarn, are readily usedB Oriole in their place. Horses also provide nesting materials in the form of hair from their tail and mane. In fact, many oriole nests collected in the early 20th century, when horses were a major means of transportation, were exclusively made of horsehair. Nests are hung on small branches six to 45 feet in the air, keeping them safe from predators. 

If your dream is to have one of these brilliant and artistic birds as a resident in your yard, our Certified Bird Feeding Specialists can show you the oriole nectar, mealworm and fruit feeders that might just make your dream become reality. Orioles love oranges and grape jelly! Once they taste the jelly, they don't care if they ever see an orange again! We have an all natural grape/blackberry jelly they love! Ask us about orioles, one of our favorite subjects in May!