Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hanging Nests

 For a good few years, probably nine, an Orchard Oriole has been nesting within a three or four hundred yards of The Vegetable Garden. And I can at last say this with a high degree of confidence, because I have seen the Orchard Oriole, not just as "Probably a Cowbird" but a genuine close up "Hello, I am The Boy Orchard Oriole and this is The Girl Orchard Oriole and you have the Tick bite to prove it." I understand that these are not recognized ornithological terms, but they serve well enough as objective expressions for the purposes of whatever set of adjectives I am becoming.  And it's all kind of a relief because it means the Weaver-like nests I have seen in the fall of the past couple of years are more than likely Orchard Oriole Nests. They are kind of amazing hanging  nests, and sometimes they are low to the ground, so a person can really examine them, but be warned it's very very unlucky to gather any kind of nest, because that's where Wrens and Bluebirds go during a Polar Vortex.

Now I have to admit that Orchard Orioles are kind of nervous wrecks, far too busy to sit still, they kind of have a flutter to them and they dart about, but I did get my chance to admire their beak, which is thinner and longer and more pointed than the Finch beak. Granted all nesting birds weave, and they do so with their beaks, which must be kind of like weaving with chop-sticks. But there's a big distinction between a nest that hangs, and a nest that is sort of plopped onto a branch and then jammed in place.  The communal hanging nest of sub-Saharan Sparrow Weavers, are mind blowing with the noise and quarreling, and it's basically all just showing off on their part. Then there are Weaver Finches that weave nests that look like Dipper Gourds and the nest sort of tosses about in the breeze, and when chicks are fed there's enough noise to wake the dead.  But the Orchard Oriole, who is primarily an insect and fruit eater but can also sip nectar from flowering plants, likes a hanging nest that no one will ever see or hear, until he is gone south for the winter.

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