We have an amazing Tulip post coming, but I’m not posting it until Wednesday because 1) Judy took so many beautiful pictures of Tulips that even after I whittled them down, there were still almost 50 which is too many, so I need to work some more on photo elimination; and 2) we have bird news.

Baltimore Oriole at the feeder

Namely, that our subtropical bird migrants started returning to our garden this past weekend. In fact, I put grape jelly out for the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday and the next day: there they were. This is really one of those moments that establishes that spring has well and truly arrived.


Here’s a female.

050510 oriole 3
Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Orioles are probably my favorite avian migrant in the garden. They show up around the beginning of May and stick around until September or so. Mostly they live in the tree tops, but they descend regularly to snack on grape jelly and oranges.


Sometimes I feel like maybe I encourage the Orioles to have a junk food diet, but here Judy has caught one feeding on the buds of Silver Maple.

Oh, and we also saw an Orchard Oriole over the weekend, but Judy didn’t get any pictures.


Waiting impatiently for his turn at the jelly is the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. This is another bird that arrives around the beginning of May.

050510 grosbeak close-up

Unfortunately, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks only hang around in the garden for a couple of weeks.


In other bird news, I’m pleased to announce that a Black-Capped Chickadee pair has taken up residence in the blue birdhouse.


On a good year there are a number of other colorful migrants that show themselves right around Mother’s Day. We’ll let you know who makes an appearance this time.

Are you seeing any newly arrived birds in your garden?

Next post: Tulips on Parade.

45 Comments on “And Now, A Brief Post About Birds”

  1. They are so pretty. I’ve never seen one. Nor the grosbeak. It seems that western birds just aren’t as colorful, or that’s the way it looks in my backyard! We should have Bullock’s orioles, but I haven’t seen them either. I did see a killdeer the other day, which was a first for me! My bird book says they like to hang out around railroad tracks, and it was across the street from some! The mourning doves are trying to make nests in the usual stupid places. A scrub jay has moved in and messing up the containers with acorns. I don’t have bird feeders, which would help. Now that there are duplexes behind my house I should get some again. Before they just drew the vermin from the field!

  2. Those photos are really wonderful. I have certainly seen more birds since I started gardening but i do not know much about them other than the popular birds regularly seen here such as cardinals, robins, blue Jay’s, red throated woodpeckers and crows.

  3. I’ve seen exactly one Baltimore oriole in the life, and it was on Galveston Island after the spring fall-out. No doubt it was headed your way. I did catch just a glimpse of a migrant at my feeders this spring — an indigo bunting. It was under some bushes, in shade, so my pair of photos aren’t much, but they’ll be a nice souvenir of its visit.

    From what I understand, the jelly is fine. I have a friend who puts halved oranges and such out for them. Maybe I should try that next migration.

  4. I love your feeder. I put out oranges and grape jelly and two orioles ignored the oranges entirely, going straight for the jelly. Eventually an orange-eater showed up. But I noticed the orioles went for suet as well. As for birds showing up, it’s a mystery to me why I haven’t seen a Grosbeak yet, but had an Ovenbird yesterday. Being able to finally see the birds that visit is really the best thing about working at home for me.

  5. Yep, we have had a hummingbird and various warblers. A Warbling Verio has been calling around the garden for several days. It would be fun if it would nest around here. I watched the House Wren chase it away when it got too close to it’s nest box. Always drama in the garden when a House Wren takes up residence in your garden. The poor Carolina chickadees tried to nest in two boxes. The darned House Wren threw out them and their nesting materials. I was so sad when that happened. Now I wonder where the chickadees went to nest. Great pictures of the birds. Orioles don’t come in to our jelly feeder. Only the Catbirds use it. The Catbird that has first arrived here this year must not be the one that was here last year as it doesn’t seem to notice the jelly which seems strange.

  6. You are so lucky to have a Chickadee pair take up residence in the blue birdhouse! Both are adorable. I find the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak very handsome: it doesn’t come around the Pacific Northwest. A pair of ducks picked my garden to lay eggs in. I’m so proud 😀

  7. The orioles are always awesome. I can’t believe how bright some of them are.
    Is this supposed to ramp us up and get us ready for the blaze of the tulips post? You can’t just go into the brightness of tulips cold turkey after all.

  8. Wow awesome bird shots! the Grosbeak looks as if it is posing for you. Beautiful.

    The hooded orioles here are super cautious. I can’t get within 50 feet without them taking off. The black phoebes are here, and the Western Kingbirds are hanging around longer than usual. Twittering flocks of Wrentits andBushtits. Saw a common yellowthroat this week which is–common–but not common right around here. Owls hooting in the night. A great spring for birds.

    Looking forward to the tulip photos!

  9. Lovely photos! Your birds are always so colourful. Our housemartins returned mid-April. It is impossible to count them as they on the wing ALL the time and then all squeeze into four nests under the eaves at night. I guess there are around 15 so far. 😃

  10. Hello Jason, you have such wonderfully coloured birds visiting your garden, we just seem to have the common dull black/brown types here. Having said that, they do have character as they follow me about the garden and just generally behave somewhat mischievously, digging around in pots and squabbling with each other.

  11. If you watch the white house East of your place, you will notice that birds are living behind the window shutters on the second floor. We like to hang out across the street and watch them emerging and flying away.

  12. Do you recall the brand name of your oriole feeder? I like the style. I saw my first oriole last year–on my hummingbird feeder, so I put out some jelly and this year I have at least three pairs of orioles. The house finches are the only other birds at the jelly feeder. The rose breasted grosbeaks stick to the safflower feeder.

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