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Birds of the Western Slope July 12, 2017

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Photo by Bill Schmoker© A male Bullock's Oriole, photographed in Boulder County by Bill Schmoker.

Bullock's Oriole

What was that? Orange . . . sort of. No, I think it was yellow. The bird flies up into the cottonwood. Turns into a leaf! How do they do that? Well, the bird was yellow or orange and fair sized, so I'd guess "oriole."

Now I get a suggestion of yellow in the cottonwood . . . and my bird comes down to the rail fence. He lands and I can get a good look. Truly, a beautiful creature! He looks orange with a broad white wing stripe. I see a black patch just beneath his bill, a black eye and a black stripe from the eye to the back of his head. The bill looks grayish. The tail looks orange with a bit of black at the tip.

Now he flutters up to a barren branch of the ornamental pear tree . . . black bill and legs. For a few moments my bird is silhouetted against the azure blue of the sky. Now down to the rail fence again, but he is in shadow.

About four years ago, we had a nesting pair of orioles. Maybe again? I've seen the male a number of times and he flies off to the west toward our "plantings" (that I call my 'bosque'). But I've yet to see the female. A gorgeous bird! I hope he stays.

Five Days Later

I'm looking out of the south window. There are suspicious looking flowers: the usual brilliant red trumpets, but they look as if they as if they didn't quite open. And I recall that the orioles and their young one pecked at the base of the blossoms. They would sip out the abundant nectar and leave. Watch. Movement. Yes! There he is! Sibley's Guide pictures a narrow, black "stripe" along the tail and a black terminal band . . .

can't really tell. Now my bird moves toward me, turns and I can see the feature. In his guide, Sibley shows this with the bird in flight, but our trumpet vine gives me a marvelous view!

In my older Golden Guide, the Northern Oriole (more eastern) and Bullock's (more western) are described together. Both are at seven inches long. I've watched the five-inch-long, pendent-shaped nest swing in the cold December wind from a barren cottonwood branch. According to Harrison's Bird Nest, the inside is about 2-1⁄2 inches. Simple arithmetic -- where does she put her tail!

Read more from:
Surface Creek
Birds of the Western Slope, Evelyn Horn
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