Friday, July 1, 2005


This is a male Hooded Oriole (icterus cucullatus), a breeding adult of the Western variant. For the past week or so, we've had two (and possibly three) pairs of Hooded Orioles feeding from the blossoms of our two Liquid Amber trees. They seem to favor these over all other food sources when they're in bloom, which makes spotting them a much easier problem. Their behavior, generally, is to stay in the Liquid Amber tree (which has broad leaves, densely packed, offering great cover), coming out just once in a while (perhaps three or four times per hour).

At left above, he's perched in an aleppo pine about 20 feet from the Liquid Amber tree; this was his most frequent maneuver. Just once in the early morning, I saw him drop to the ground, right under the Liquid Amber tree (right photo above). I've never seen them on the ground before, so this has to be a fairly unusual behavior. I speculate that he dropped a blossom or two and was retrieving it, but I never did see him pick up anything in his 90 seconds or so on the ground. Just toward the camera from the Hooded Oriole you can see a California Towhee — who got into a dust-up with the oriole, causing him to fly away...

That right photo above, by the way, was taken with a 1280mm stabilized telephoto, handheld, at 1/30th second, at 1600 ASA (the morning light was very dim). This modern equipment is amazing!

As usual, click on the photos for a larger view...

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