FINAL Signs of Spring Update: May 31, 2002
Today's Report Includes:
Orioles Home at Last!
Patricia Hogan, in Gulliver, Michigan, writes on May 21, 2002, "Finally we sighted Orioles. The female appeared first, then the male a day later. They never seem to stay; they just pass through. The odd thing is that they always seem to show up with Indigo Buntings. We had 2 Indigo Buntings show the same day."
Indigo Buntings are tiny blue finches that also winter in the tropics, so it's not surprising that their migration is close to that of Baltimore Orioles! Seeing such brilliant blue and orange birds together would indeed be a thrill.
As soon as orioles return, they begin the process of pairing and building a nest. Orioles construct one of the most complicated nests in North America. They follow the "nest-building blueprints" in their brains, and instinctively know how to build the perfect structure to hold the eggs they're about to lay. An oriole's intricately-woven, purse-shaped nest dangles in the outer twigs of a tall tree. Imagine living inside an egg inside a nest that often sways in the breeze--and then hatching out into that same gently rocking little world! Imagine you are an oriole. You can make a nest for yourself if you follow the instructions below. It's a lot of work! Fortunately, after your babies fledge, you're all done needing a crib for a whole year. And you'd better move out of the nest too. Find out why! It's all here:
Then come back and see how you will answer this questions: (Link to answer is
in Oriole Eggs and Babies.)
Baby orioles fledge, or leave the nest, when they are 12 to 14 days old. At this point, they must be stronger fliers than newly-fledged robins. Why do you think that's so? Most robins nest on sturdy branches that have big lower branches that can catch a clumsy little fledgling. Baby robins that come from nests on houses have more trouble leaving the nest safely, but most of these nests are over lawns. And even robin nests over porches and sidewalks are just about always closer to the ground than oriole nests! Oriole nests are usually 25-30 feet up in a tree. Some are as high as 90 feet! Babies falling from that height would be far more at risk of injury than robins nesting 12 feet up above a front porch.
Once the babies fledge, they have a lot to learn about the big world. Even one mistake can make it easier for a hawk to kill them. Most orioles never see their first birthday because too many things can kill them. But those that learn their lessons well can survive for as many as 11 years or more.What are some things an oriole must learn to survive? What important lesson do baby orioles learn when they're awake at night?
Miles and Miles: Discussion of Challenge Question #31
Last time we asked, "If a Barn Swallow lived for 8 years and flew 600 miles every day during that time, how far would it have flown during its lifetime?"
We multiplied 8 years per lifetime times 365.25 days per year (we remembered Leap Year!) times 600 miles per day to come up with 1,753,200 miles per lifetime.
Year-End Evaluation: Please Share Your Thoughts!
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This is the FINAL Oriole Migration Update. We look forward to welcoming you and the orioles back next spring!
Copyright 2002 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.