First-fall Baltimore Oriole

A flash of deep yellow-orange among the dark green foliage of trees on the edge of the woods this afternoon turned out to be a first-fall male Baltimore Oriole. Its color was striking, and seemed almost to burn – even though it was very different and not nearly as flamboyant as the contrasting orange and black colors of a mature Baltimore Oriole.

The intense color was the first thing that caught my eye. The young Oriole flew in, perched high on a branch, facing me, and preened for several minutes, raking its bill through the breast feathers and turning his head over his back, stretching out the wings. The throat and breast were warm yellow-orange, and the head appeared to be olive and smooth, with a very dark eye, maybe a faint dark streak, and dark wings tipped in white, with one thick, short white wing bar. The round head and posture, sharp bill, and the way it moved reminded me of the female Orchard Orioles I’ve seen several times recently in the field.

After several minutes of preening intently, it stretched out low on the branch, looked around quickly, and hopped back further into the foliage and out of sight.

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