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The Buzz

Baltimore Orioles Have Landed in Illinois




Photo via Wikimedia Commons

There are so many reasons to be excited about spring, from when the preserves return to life with a variety of wildflowers, such as Virginia bluebells, to all of the birds that migrate back into the area.

While there's a considerable frenzy over the return of ruby-throated hummingbirds, another colorful bird has returned from its wintering grounds in Florida and Central America: The Baltimore Oriole.

We've been charting their progress on eBird and the first reported sighting in Will County came on Monday, April 30 at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. There have been numerous other sightings throughout the northern part of the state on eBird. There's also been a sighting posted on the Will County Wildlife Facebook group run by the District.

These birds usually arrive around the first week in May, so they appear to be right on schedule. According to Chris Gutmann, the facility supervisor for the District's Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville, Baltimore orioles' migration is usually part of the peak songbird migration. 

Gutmann said the late stretch of low temperatures could limit food resources available for orioles and other songbirds.

"The cold weather can delay leaf emergence in trees, which in turn, delays insect emergence," he said. "Migrating songbirds are dependent on these insects upon their arrival. They land exhausted and starving and they depend on these insects to survive and refuel."

As a result, now is a good time to make sure your birdfeeders are out to give them a bit of a helping hand. 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," Gutmann said. "For any orioles remaining to nest, it's likely they'll remember your yard as a food source and return."

Even if you strike out in your yard, there are plenty of locations in Will County preserves where they can be seen.

Isle a la Cache Preserve is one of them, and both Baltimore orioles and orchard orioles can routinely be spotted at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve in Plainfield and Whalon Lake in Naperville.

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