Sunday, April 10, 2011

Orioles and April Rain

Costa's Hummingbird
Yesterday we got some much needed rain. Not just a short April shower, but long lasting 'female' rain as native Arizonans call the gentle, productive winter drizzle. Thunderous summer monsoon showers are called male rain.

Early during our breakfast all birds bravely kept feeding.

Female Oriole
But they began to look wet and disheveled, smeared with clumpy, sticky pollen. They didn't seem to enjoy the weather very much. When it is cold - yesterday we were in the high forties - most birds, like mammals, keep their body temperature up by shivering, and that costs energy. Only a few, among them hummers and swifts, can let their core temperature drop and go into torpor like lizards, but his happens usually only at night at even lower temps.

Bullock's Oriole
After breakfast on the patio we went inside to 'do our taxes'. It's that time of the year. So the roofed patio was left to the birds. Hummers were already hiding under the eves - no great photo op there. But:
An old cholla skeleton used to support a Mandevilla that didn't make it through the February freeze. It soon looked like a traditional Easter Tree, all decorated with Orioles instead of Easter Eggs.

 To my surprise Hooded and Bullock's Oriole males peacefully shared the cover. Usually they are very territorial and the Hooded succeeds in chasing the Bullock's out.  

 Obviously, he didn't feel up to it in that weather and concentrated on staying warm. Or does misery really like company?

Even though I'm aware of northern species of the genus, Orioles always strike me as visitors from a lusher, tropical world with sweet fruit and perennial sunshine. Our birds seem to agree with me.

I have no idea to which species of Oriole the female belonged. She didn't show any interest in either male.

Our Cactus Wrens always populate the patio,  sharing it with us and 5 big dogs. They even go through the pages of our newspaper on the table. But this guy looks wet and miserable, too.

Update: today it's sunny, but chilly with frost on the roof, and the Orioles are happily mobbing each other with angry keck-keck-krrreck calls.


  1. Jealous of your rain, and all those orioles and what an amazing Saguaro in the "Easter Tree" photo!

  2. Oh my goodness! What a truly delightful blog!!

  3. I totally agree with what Arlene, MaryL, and Refracted Lite said.