Yesterday evening we were enjoying our first outdoor fire of the year when we heard a lovely song coming from the branches of the Apple Tree. Try as we might all we could see was a flash of red and black. The song and the movement amongst the blooms lasted right up until PeterC came out with the bird identification books and his binoculars. Of course, at the moment he arrived back at the fire the bird took off into the thicker tree cover to be heard but not seen.
We narrowed down the choices of the type of bird by his feeding habit and the brief glimpses of colour we saw. Since he was feeding on the apple blossoms but was definitely not a hummingbird, unless this hummingbird got into some serious Godzilla making nuclear waste somewhere, we decided it was some kind of Oriole.
There are two variety of of Oriole that can be found in Ontario. The Baltimore Oriole which is a very common breeder throughout Southern Ontario and into the St Lawrence Valley and Quebec. The Orchard Oriole is a very uncommon breeder and a rare migrant and has only been confirmed in Southern Ontario according to The ROM Field Guide to Birds of Ontario. Based on the colouration we suspected the Orchard Oriole but couldn't confirm it.
Later in the evening, PeterC heard a total of six more birds, one that he was able to positively identify as an Orchard Oriole. He was taking the dogs for their evening walk when he heard the same song we had heard in the yard but coming from different locations around the area. Looking around he spied a Male Orchard Oriole sitting on the bare branches of a tree singing for all he was worth. The bird he could see would sing a few notes and the other, unseen birds, would answer.
I wish we could have gotten some pictures especially considering their rare status in this part of the province. We don't know if these are just migrating through of if, due to current weather conditions they have moved their breeding area further east than previously seen. There are a large number of blooming Crabapple and Apple trees in our neighbourhood so they have plenty of food should they decide to stay for any length of time. Perhaps we will get an oriole feeder and place it amongst the apple branches to encourage them to breed in the area.