(Photo courtesy of Terry Wehrman Sr.)
While there's a considerable frenzy over the return of ruby-throated hummingbirds each spring, another colorful bird has also returned from its wintering grounds in Florida and Central America: the Baltimore oriole.
We've been keeping an eye on the orioles' progress both on the Journey North migration map as well as on eBird, and if you haven't set out your oranges and grape jelly yet, put it on your to-do list.
Over the past few days, we've seen an explosion of oriole activity both on the Journey North map as well as in our Will County Wildlife Facebook group. In our Facebook group, sightings have been reported in New Lenox, Joliet, Shorewood, Bolingbrook, Manhattan and Crest Hill, to name just a few locations.
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The good news is that with the arrival of orioles, you should be seeing some other birds popping up as well.
"Historically, orioles and hummingbirds, along with rose-breasted grosbeaks and indigo buntings, show up around the same time here," said Bob Bryerton, a program coordinator at Plum Creek Nature Center. "Sometimes, (they show up) on the same day and sometimes within a week or so of each other."
Now is a good time to make sure your oriole feeders are out to give them a bit of a helping hand until they have better access to the bugs and berries they usually feast on. To attract orioles, it's as easy as cutting an orange and putting it in a visible spot so they can find it.
"If a migrating flock finds your yard, you could easily find multiple orioles at your feeder station at one time," said Chris Gutmann, the facility supervisor for the District's Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon. "For any orioles remaining to nest, it's likely they'll remember your yard as a food source and return."
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