It's been nearly two decades since I put up the first hummingbird feeder in the Wind River Canyon here in the Wild West of Wyoming. After being surprised by the first hummingbird while painting, it seemed a great idea to help the little buzzers out. Then, one crazy-hot and dry summer day a bright orange bird tried to feed on the nectar feeder! He was bigger than a finch, but much smaller than a robin; but was he orange!
Obviously, it was a Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii) that wanted the sugar-water from the hummingbird feeder. He couldn't get his much larger beak in the tiny opening of the feeder I'd purchased, but he gave it a valiant try anyway; I just sat and starred, amazed at this beautiful orange bird, and his little darting tongue. I knew that I needed to come up with a solution for him.
After purchasing a plastic hummingbird feeder with larger openings, my little oriole came to visit many times during the day; and someone else showed up! The bird was yellow and silver-grey....stately and stunning; it turned out to be the female Bullock's Oriole!
Old wives-tales still survive to this day that say female birds are drab, and I would just like to say that the female Bullock's Oriole definitely isn't. When researching this "new" bird it was a shock to know it was a female oriole.
Now, nearly twenty years later and nearly four hundred pounds of sugar have gone by, and the orioles breed in the Wind River Canyon every year. We always have multiple nesting pairs in this part of the canyon; this year is no different.
Bullock's Oriole,female-Wind River Canyon, WyomingPortrait of a Bullock's Oriole female in the Wind River Canyon, Wyoming. Bullock's Oriole,male-Wind River Canyon, WyomingPortrait of a Male Bullock's Oriole, Wind River Canyon, Wyoming.
Despite the fact that observers across our country saw things differently, the books listed Bullock's Orioles in the same Baltimore category. They may have interbred in the Plains of America at one time, but the species are distinctly different and are now listed as separate species. You will never see a Baltimore Oriole in Wyoming, or a Bullock's Oriole east of the Mississippi.
The nests of our orioles are fascinating, suspended and woven wonders of nature's architecture. They survive horrible wind and rain in the Wind River Canyon that you might think would destroy their nests; they survive even canyon weather disasters. They are lined with fur from my sled dogs. The video above is a rare treat....a female oriole singing a tune....just for you!
I now put up hummingbird (nectar) feeders the first day of May, sometimes earlier if weather permits. And wouldn't you know, an oriole and hummingbird arrive almost simultaneously now, but they will never, ever eat at the same table; the tiny hummingbirds are intimidated by the "huge" size of the orioles: Like me trying to eat at the same table with a Denver Bronco's lineman. Bullock's Oriole-Wind River Canyon,WyomingBullock's Oriole male photographed in Wind River Canyon in the state of Wyoming. Every year we are amazed at the marvelous beauty of these animated birds; at times they seem like they should have "made-in-china" labels on them. But they are truly one of Mother Nature's most beautiful aviators. And they nest and breed every year in the Wind River Canyon....right here in Wyoming.
*Wind River Canyon Blog, and all photographs and videos are produced by Michael John Balog----all rights are reserved.
For many more wildlife photographs from the Wind River Canyon, including Bighorn Sheep and hummingbirds, visit www.HogbatsPhotography.com.
And thank you for your time.