The Feeder Feed

I had an odd experience today.

I went out to put more grape jelly in the little cups on the bird feeder apparatus.

As I was doing so, I heard directly behind me – but close – a loud strange ratchety sound, obviously a bird but nothing I recognized.

Turning slowly I found myself face to face with an irritated male oriole, just a few feet away on the branch of nearby pine tree.

I am guessing he was pretty hungry and sorely irked that I was in his way.  Either that or he is not quite right in the head.

Orioles are pretty wary, in my experience, probably because of their bright color.  They spot movement well.  I am careful when photographing them because they often are gone by the time I raise the camera.

In any event, Mr. Oriole scolded me for a bit.

I left the feeder and, by the time I was ten feet away, he was already gobbling up the above mentioned grape jelly with never a care for my presence at all.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Vincenzo says:

    That’s hilarious.

  2. wanda says:

    Wow. They are usually a very wary bird, as you say. Now that they know where the good stuff is I guess you best be keepin’ those dishes filled up buster. Make it snappy, too. I’m trying to eat here.

    Really, though, how wonderful to have them so close at hand. They are beautiful.

  3. Maltese says:

    Well, Father, today I was out on a run, and happened upon a goose family (about six babies, and the parents, who mate for life, like ducks and beavers, btw.) and I don’t know if it was the mom or dad, but one of them came hissing and charging at me, notwithstanding our relative size differences! Along the same route, I think I saw the same family along the banks of a pond, I stood there, and suddenly, with just the nod of his or her head, one of the parents ushered all of the kiddos into the water without a single sound; they all went scrambling in with just a gesture!

  4. Random Friar says:

    Mating and fledgling season has been known to drive a usually timid bird to be quite the protector, and since they expend so much energy, sometimes more aggressive feeders as well.

  5. doanli says:

    What a beautiful bird.

    I haven’t seen them here in South Carolina.

  6. AnAmericanMother says:

    You’re right to be wary of geese.
    They can put a hurt on you — even my canny old Lab approaches them with caution.

  7. introibo says:

    Ungrateful so and so….

  8. cicada380 says:

    That reminds me of the day I was yelled at by a hummingbird. I was standing in front of the feeders having a conversation with my dad, and apparently it was dinner time. The bird “swooped” me a couple of times, but my dad and I just kept talking. Well, that just wouldn’t do for a hungry bird. The bird flew and hovered to just in front of my face and then chewed me out for what felt like a full minute! Needless to say, we moved our conversation a few feet away and our little hummingbird got busy with dinner.

  9. Sedgwick says:

    See that, Father, he thought you moved his cheese.

  10. Random Friar says:

    I remember reading that the Romans used geese as “watch dogs,” and some folks still do. They can also be used for some weed control.

    Of course, my favorite function for geese is right around Christmastime…

  11. Supertradmum says:

    My grandmother who died in her mid-90s many years ago remembers geese being used as watch-dogs in villages in Iowa. My great-grandma remembered geese as watch-dogd in Moravia over 100 years ago, with serious injury to strangers who tried to approach. As to this beautiful bird, I would give him caviar to be in our neighborhood. We do have many more goldfinches this year for some reason.

  12. Moscatelli says:

    The geese of goddess Juno on the Capitoline hill did in fact save Rome from an attack by the Gauls (IV century BC) by awakening the Romans who were sound asleep, unaware of the approaching enemy …

  13. Michael in NoVA says:

    Alas Father, I have my bird story for yesterday, but it is not as happy or entertaining. We closed on the purchase of a foreclosed house this week, and as we were meeting with a contractor who is preparing to touch up a few items, I noticed a small finch or sparrow fly from the side of the house. I look closer, and I see straw sticking out from the dryer vent area, about 7 feet off the ground. The flap didn’t close all the way, so it was a perfect enclosed area with a cover to nest in. Needless to say, I had to remove a nest, and with it the four small eggs that were still warm to the touch from momma’s care. I tried placing them in a small shrub/brush nearby, but know that this won’t work. Finally, as I left, I saw momma back in the flap, searching for what remained of the nest and eggs.

    Alas, St. Francis I am not. I’ll try to make it up to them with a good feeder this winter.

  14. Eric says:

    I spotted our first Oriole of the year yesterday. Ironically he was on the baseball field in our back yard.

    I told my son we should name him Frank. He said, “No he’s an Orioleson not a Robinson.” :-)

    More ironically my son’s and I had been talking just the day before about the worst trades in Red’s history, being from the Cincy area.

  15. irishgirl says:

    Moscatelli-I was just going to mention that ancient Roman ‘goose story’, and you beat me to it! That’s all right….I probably would have screwed up in telling it!

    Wow, that oriole was pretty ticked with you, Father Z…’I want that jelly, and I want it NOW!’

    I’ve heard about Canada geese defending their young…they can get pretty nasty!

  16. JosephMary says:

    Downy woodpecker in my locust tree and a yellow warbler in my birthbath yesterday. Brewer’s blackbirds (not so desireable) in our ponderosa pine and house sparrows in the bird house are all nesting. The baby blackbirds sounded cute at first but now sound like blackbirds; they keep the adults busy.

    The squirrels keep trying to find –and with good success–ways to the bird feeders.

  17. scaron says:

    i had a male oriole fly in my open garage door last week. I left the doors open – he kept flying around, making the same “rachet” sound you mention – he was very, very mad! He kept wanting to fly *up* – when he needed to fly *down* to go out the open doors.

    After a while i remembered the “feeder feed”, and put a teaspoonful of grape jelly on the driveway, just outside the open door, and left him alone. An hour later, the oriole, and some of the jelly, was gone. [Then my work here is done.]

  18. doanli says:

    I wonder if the hummingbirds have made it back up to North Carolina yet.

    There is a lovely state park near Charlotte where you can sit behind a big window and bird watch. I hope we get there this weekend, but the weather forecast is not looking good.

  19. irishgirl says:

    What is it about orioles and grape jelly?

    Just askin’….. : )

  20. Random Friar says:

    They like grape jelly. They like sweet stuff in general. There are oriole feeders which are like hummingbird feeders, only with a larger opening.

    The ratio of water:sugar is about 4:1 for hummers, and 6:1 for orioles, but 5:1 seems a good compromise for both, if you want hummers at your oriole feeders.

  21. wanda says:

    Father Z., That’s a nifty looking piece of apparatus, the Oriole Feeder. I’ve looked a little on line for something similar. Can you share where you found this rig? On line or in a bird shop, hardware store? I’m not too thrilled with what I’ve been seeing so far.
    Thank you.

  22. irishgirl says:

    Random Friar-thanks for the explanation! That’s very interesting!

    So orioles like ‘sweets’, eh?

  23. Random Friar says:

    Irishgirl: Yup, although grape jelly seems to be their favorite!

    Wanda: Try Wild Birds Unlimited and their accessories to their “Basic” or “Advanced” pole systems. Their stores generally stock a good number of options like those.

  24. wanda says:

    Random Friar, Thank you for the tip on Wild Birds Unlimited. I looked at their site and even located a store not too far from where I live. Thanks again.

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