Friday, February 21, 2020

It's Back! Or it Never Left...Hooded Oriole on the Tuolumne River

Hooded Orioles (Icterus cucullatus) are beautiful birds that winter in the tropics and visit our region for the spring and summer, adding a bright splash of color to our river environment. There is a set of palm trees where they nested for at least the last two years, and I was delighted every time I spied one of them during my walks.

So it was that last December 4, and again on December 11 I saw a male and female in the palm trees, at a time when only three Hooded Orioles were known to be anywhere in the entire state of California. It was a shock, but then I didn't see them again all through January and most of February. At least until today. I actually searched the palms pretty carefully hoping the orioles were still around with no luck, but then mere moments later I saw the male on a tree in a backyard just down the street. It stayed still long enough for pictures, and then as it flew off I thought I saw a second one, but I couldn't be sure.

These could be super early spring migrants, but I suspect these are the same birds I saw in December, and that they stayed in the region. But if they did stay, they hid well because I watched for them every day as I walked the trail.

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