header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Cloudy
Cloudy
52°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
April 11
1987 - Ramona Chapel and Red Schoolhouse relocated to Heritage Junction [story]
Red Schoolhouse


Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
| Thursday, Jun 22, 2017

All of the bird books say the hooded oriole comes back to California from Mexico in late March. They spend the winter on the Southwestern coast of Mexico and are permanent residents in Baja, the Mexican east coast and Belize. Very rare are the ones that winter in Southern California.

I am always fascinated to glance at pages of graphs and notations with dates from bird watchers who have made it their mission to record the comings and goings of a special bird. They can be seen in March by my friends who have orchards or in Fillmore invading the orange groves, but I very rarely see a flash of yellow in my backyard in April even if I sometimes hear a new song.

This yearly disappointment was grating on my nerves when I remembered a saying: “Feed them and they will come.” I have tested that with my own kids and with the docents at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center on a regular basis. If you have planned a meeting where you suspect nobody is going to show up, promise your volunteers you’ll feed them pizza, and the room will be full as if by magic.

I stumbled on this solution by accident. I had a hummingbird nest and started faithfully to hang a feeder so Mom would not have to look for food for very long. To my great surprise, the hooded oriole became an avid customer and was not afraid to come close to the house.

That was a nice surprise, indeed. Hooded orioles are lively birds but nervous and animated, bickering at the feeder, hanging upside down and flying away very fast in total panic if they see your shadow.

They must be the most beautiful birds you can see in your backyard. Their body is almost iridescent pale orange with sharp black wings with a white bar and a shiny black throat patch that goes up to the beak and the eyes. The body is about 8 inches long, slender and elegant. Females and juveniles are more drab; they do not have the black on the throat, but they have the same elegant body, and if you see a male, often the female can be seen a few minutes later or vice versa.

It is well known that orioles prefer to nest in palm trees. This is actually one of the reasons their territory has increased considerably farther north. As more developments are being built and as the palm tree seems to be California’s signature tree of excellence,” the hooded orioles are taking advantage of the situation and making nests where the possibility occurs. If there is no palm tree, they have adopted eucalyptus and sycamore trees, so the possibilities are endless.

I have sometimes found a nest on the ground in the fall, and I have marveled at the intricacy and ingenuity of the design. It looks like a hanging pouch. It is made of fiber and grass woven together to make the shape. The inside is lined with soft down, hair and feathers. The female builds the nest, I found out, but the male brings the supplies.

What is really special about this nest is the way it hangs. The female looks for a large leaf, pokes holes from below and threads the fibers through, so in a way she sews the nest to the leaf. It hangs down a little bit like a hammock would. The nest is ready in three to six days, sewing included.

Orioles like to have a canopy above their nest, and if they cannot find a good, strong leaf to serve the purpose, they will hang the nest from a man-made structure, under the eaves of a house or under the shade of a light fixture.

Along the coast in California, they will often have two broods in a season before leaving for migration. August is a time of feeding frenzy to put on weight to prepare for the long trip. Time is short as the males depart in late August, the young and females in the second week of September.

Their menu is varied. Their beak is strong but thin, so they can reach insects in tree bark easily. They can dig into fruits for the juice they love, and they can get to the sugar water in the small holes of a humming bird feeder, sucking the juice with a long tongue. They feed on the nectar from flowers, piercing the base of the flower and sucking the juice, and they visit bird feeders for seeds. They eat berries and favor insects of all sorts.

Often, you will hear a hooded oriole before you see it, they are shy and nervous but their musical song is also jumbled and loud, sometimes the male imitates other birds just to add to your confusion from a bird you can hear so well but cannot see.

Hooded orioles’ territory has expanded with urbanization, and they are doing just fine in California. But their nests can be affected by the crow population eating their eggs. Also, their nest is often hanging from the lower branches in a palm tree, which can be a problem during tree trimming as those branches are the most accessible. Please trim the trees in winter when the nesting season is over, if that is possible.

Taking a photo of a hooded oriole requires a huge amount of time, much patience, a good telephoto lens and a love for this beautiful bird. I do not even try, but I enjoy their happy song while they remain hidden in trees and shrubs or chattering during disputes with each other, which happen frequently.

They will be here until the third week of August, so catch a glimpse while you can, or hang a hummingbird feeder like I did.

 

Evelyne Vandersande has been a docent at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center since 1986. She lives in Newhall.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. Denise says:

    I, too, enjoy these beautiful birds at my hummingbird feeder. They are the only other bird besides the hummingbirds that stop by for a quick sip. We do have a palm tree just across from the feeder they must be nesting in while the hummingbirds prefer the bottle brush bush. Thank you for this most informative article.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Friday, Apr 2, 2021
When the City put the Santa Clarita 2020 strategic plan in motion more than five years ago, we knew it was an ambitious undertaking.
Thursday, Apr 1, 2021
Last spring, the City Council heard the community’s call to step in and preserve the landmark Valencia Ice Station. After months of renovations and updates, the 93,000 square foot building is almost ready to welcome the community back - to the newly renamed The Cube.
Tuesday, Mar 16, 2021
We have now reached the one-year anniversary of the shutdown of society as we responded to the threat of COVID-19.
Tuesday, Mar 2, 2021
Picture this…the sun has just set on another brisk spring day.
Monday, Mar 1, 2021
Spring is upon us, and with it comes longer days, greener hillsides, and warmer temperatures that invite outdoor exploration.
Monday, Feb 22, 2021
Helping our students stay on track to complete their goals remains our top priority. To that end, we are offering a wide variety of classes this spring designed to do just that.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1987 - Ramona Chapel and Red Schoolhouse relocated to Heritage Junction [story]
Red Schoolhouse
1835 - Outlaw and Rocks/Park/High School namesake Tiburcio Vasquez born in Monterey, Calif. [story]
Tiburcio Vasquez
Nearly 100 people gathered in front of the highly anticipated Laemmle 7 in Newhall to officially open the theater to the Santa Clarita Valley community.
Laemmle Officially Opens in Old Town Newhall
The city of Santa Clarita Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission recently met to receive an update from city staff about the status of the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall.
Parks Commissioners Asked to Advise on Pioneer Oil Refinery’s Future
A judge’s ruling this week dealt a setback to the Tejon Ranch Co.’s proposed 19,000-unit Centennial development project in the upper northwest corner of Los Angeles County.
Judge Halts Centennial Development Project in Tejon Ranch
The California Community College Athletic Trainers Association has named longtime athletic trainer, and current College of the Canyons associate athletic director, Chad Peters its 2021 Athletic Trainer of the Year.
Chad Peters Named CCCATA 2021 Athletic Trainer of the Year
Los Angeles County Public Health on Friday confirmed 48 new deaths and 752 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with 27,432 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: 27,432 Total SCV Cases; County Nears 5 Million Administered Doses
The Santa Clarita City Council Legislative Committee briefly met Thursday morning to recommend that the City Council oppose four pieces of state legislation that would expand the state’s land-use authority.
Council Committee Recommends Opposition to State Land-Use Bills
In an effort to provide kids across the Santa Clarita Valley with a safe place to play and learn over spring break while parents are working, the Boys & Girls Club of SCV holds an annual camp.
Boys & Girls Club Holds Spring Break Camp
In recognition of public safety dispatchers' services, the California Highway Patrol joins other law enforcement agencies to recognize National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week on April 11-17, 2021.
CHP to Honor Public Safety Dispatchers During National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week
Officials in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will be hosting a virtual community discussion on child abuse prevention April 20.
L.A. County Sheriffs to Host Child Abuse Prevention Seminar
1937 - Pioneer aviator E.B. Christopher and passenger killed in crash of light plane on Ridge Route near Gorman [story]
wreckage
CBRE announced the sale of a state-of-the-art 24,164 square-foot industrial facility to Tera McHugh and John McHugh, owners of Versatile Systems, Inc.
Valencia Industrial Building Sold to Versatile Systems
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying public health restrictions in place for large events and community gatherings, as well as past participation numbers, the city of Santa Clarita has evaluated several components of the annual Santa Clarita Marathon and is making a necessary change to the event.
City Postpones 2021 Marathon, Event Permanently Moved to February
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Thursday 52 new deaths and 710 new cases of COVID-19, with 27,417 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: L.A. County Hospitalizations Remain Under 600; SCV Cases Total 27,417
Because of the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, some pet owners may have delayed purchasing their annual pet licenses and are now subject to late penalty fees.
Animal Care & Control Temporarily Waives Pet Licensing Fees
College of the Canyons will welcome José Rivera, award-winning playwright and the first Puerto Rican screenwriter to be nominated for an Oscar, to the School of Visual & Performing Arts’ Virtual Industry Insight Series on Monday, April 12.
COC Virtual Industry Insight Series Welcomes Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter José Rivera
Santa Clarita Artists Association (SCAA) will spotlight contemporary artist Alex Schaeffer in a virtual oil demo on Monday, April 19, from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
April 19: Virtual Oil Demo by Artist Alex Schaeffer
Spectrum Commercial Real Estate advisors Yair Haimoff, SIOR, Randy Cude, and Matt Sreden represented the seller in the sale of a 23,817-square-foot professional office building in a prime Valencia location.
Avenue Kearny Building Sells for $6 Million
Following stakeholder planning meetings over the course of a year and a public survey period in January, the city of Santa Clarita’s 2021 Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) draft update enters the next phase in the approval and adoption process.
Residents Can Now Review Santa Clarita’s 2021 Hazard Mitigation Draft Plan
Cassie Gratton knows how to open a Laemmle theater. The general manager of the Newhall Laemmle, which will open its doors with a ribbon-cutting this Friday, also helped to open Laemmle’s Glendale and Claremont locations.
After Several Delays, Laemmle Newhall Opens Friday
The California Department of Transportation announced that new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV, or carpool) lanes are open to motorists on Northbound and Southbound Interstate 5 between the Ventura Freeway (State Route 134) interchange in Los Angeles and Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank.
CalTrans Announces Opening of New I-5 Carpool Lanes
1874 - Work completed at Lyon's Station (now Eternal Valley) on first version of Pioneer Oil Refinery [story]
Pioneer Oil Refinery
%d bloggers like this: