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Central Coast Birding:  Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole.jpg

          In March, we can expect to start seeing our spring migrants return to the Central Coast to raise their young.  One of the most eye-catching, and relatively common migratory species we have here on the Central Coast, is the Hooded Oriole.  These beautiful black and yellow stunners are often heard before they are seen.  Their call is a very busy chatter mixed with the occasional “Veek” call.  Often, the best place to get a good look at them is your hummingbird feeder.  While their diet consists of bugs, fruit and nectar, they love coming to hummingbird feeders for a quick and easy sugary meal.  They are blackbird sized and, in fact, are closely related to blackbirds.
          Orioles are often casually referred to as “Weaver Birds”.  In our area, they use the stringy parts of palm tree fronds along with other materials they can scavenge to weave intricate, bag like nests. They lay 3-5 eggs that hatch within a couple of weeks.   So, if you see Hooded Orioles coming to your hummingbird feeder, it’s very likely that within a few weeks you will have young orioles following Mom and Pop to your feeder.  But don’t expect them all to have the beautiful black and yellow colors.  As is so often the case in the feathered world, the males are brightly colored while females and young have comparatively dull coloring.
          Once they raise their young, the orioles spend the rest of their summer here fattening up.  Then in August and September, they will begin the long migration back to Central and South America. 
          This male Hooded Oriole was photographed at one of my hummingbird feeders in 2023.

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