Monday, March 30, 2009

Baltimore Oriole Nest

Remember last December when I showed you pictures of an oriole nest hanging from the branches in my weeping willow? (if you don't, click here to see that post). Anyway, we've had some horrific winds again this winter and I found that beautiful little oriole nest on the ground in the backyard this morning. This is the first time I've ever gotten the chance to hold or see an oriole nest up close and I thought you might enjoy taking a closer look at it too.

Remember it was so easy to spot because of all the blue threads from a plastic tarp? Isn't this amazing how the tarp threads are completely incorporated into the outside structure of this nest? I think that little stick on the left side is one of the small branches the oriole used to help hold this nest in the tree.

Here's a look at the inside. It's mostly long pieces of fine grass (2-3 inches long) and some other material I couldn't identify (it actually looks like needles from a white pine, but I pulled a piece out and it was just too fine for that). I could just barely see that there had probably been some kind of light-colored and fluffy material in the bottom too. There was no dried poop that I could see, so Mrs. Oriole was a conscientious mom (just like Mrs. Bluebird) about keeping her home neat and cleaning up after her babies.

To me this nest seemed really small--I couldn't even fit my entire hand inside of it. I really wondered how Mrs. Oriole and 4 babies managed to fit inside of here!

Here's the bottom side of the nest. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you may be able to see the little pieces of light-colored, fluffy fibers incorporated with all the plant materials.
I turned this nest round and round in my hands, marveling at how a bird is able to create such a perfect little home using only it's beak. I've woven baskets before, but there's no way I would be able to create an oriole nest like this--even using 2 hands!

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Despite the fact that the weather forecasters are telling us to expect several more days of wintery weather, the weather this morning was quite lovely when Sophie and I took our walk and I was happy to hear the song of an Eastern Phoebe in the woods up the street.


Meggie said...

I'm always amazed at the small size of some nests. A wren's nest is so super small...I don't know how one egg fits into it, yet alone 3 or 4. I think if birds were humans, they would all be skilled carpenters.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for the great look at the nest. I've never seen one before and the close-ups were great. Hope the bad weather passes you by.

dAwN said...

Thanks for showing the is a work of art.
amazing, like you said, that is is all made with a beak.

Mama Pea said...

That nest is simply another wonder of nature. Even though we humans are supposedly the highly skilled, intelligent species, there are so many things in nature, created by 'lower' species, that we can't begin to emulate. Amazing. Thanks for sharing!

degz said...

Hi Ruthie, Really liked the pictures of the bird's nest, especially of it hanging in the tree. If you're interested I've a picture of some bird made felt on my blog I think it must have been a nest liner.

Jayne said...

That is just so extraordinary Ruthie! And so festive! I remember when they were building with that tarp. So glad you got to see it once it fell from the tree, and that you got to share it with us. :c)

Deb said...

Nests like that just amaze me. Thanks for the close up look!

Mel said...

Hola Ruthie :)
That nest is so cool! It is amazing how birds and other species of the animal kingdom manage to do wonders; and how we, humans, try to copy them over and over again, some times successfully, others... well... let's not talk about some of my past projects,lol

Kelly said...

...very cool. It amazes me how they can create these beautiful homes. Thanks for sharing the nest. I've never seen an oriole's nest up close!

Gaelyn said...

Too bad the nest blew down. But lucky for us to see it so close up. It's so intricate and colorful. Those Orioles are creative nest builders. Us humans have nothing over nature.

Anonymous said...

That was quite a find, an actual oriole nest. It is perfectly made and the fact that it made it thru the winter, shows the workmanship that went into it. Of course the fact that is had "tarp string" made it all the more durable. I hope you save it.


Larry said...

It is pretty amazing to see how they design a nest. I am going to make a point out of staying in one place to watch a bird building a nest this year. Not for the whole job but for an hour or so.

cindy said...

Ruthie, great looks at a most beautiful nest. Thanks for sharing. I use plain suet for the robins. I also spend some time chasing grackles and starlings. The robins like very early morning. That's when they gobble up the most. I take the suet out of the feeder during the rest of the day, then put it back in late evening. Lots of extra work...and it does'nt always get done. Good luck. Sounds like we're missing another storm.

Marsha said...

I really enjoyed this up close look at an oriole nest. I always hang out colored yard in the spring hoping they will use it for nesting and then I might have a chance of spotting a nest but have never seen them use it.

It does seem smaller than some I have seen.

Lynne said...

We have Orioles every summer but I've never found a nest. It sure looks carefully constructed. It's absolutely amazing that they can weave with their beaks!

Anonymous said...

When you become a full-fledged naturalist that nest might come in handy for a display. It is way to cool to destroy. Maybe you can save other nests that come your way, except for that eagle nest, HA-HA, storage might be a problem.


Mary C said...

Ruthie, I was thinking the same thing as your mom. I was hoping you were planning to save it. I'm sure school children would love to see it, and I even wonder if any nature centers around you would love to "borrow" it to put on display.

Red said...

What a cool thing to just blow down from the tree... intact and all! It's even pretty with the blue tarp strips, kinda like an Easter basket :)

RuthieJ said...

Hi Meggie,
I have one wren house where the roof opens and you can look inside at the nest. I was surprised to find they have a nice soft center for the babies--I always thought the nest was just a bunch of sticks!

You're welcome Carolyn--glad you enjoyed it. (just a little rain and a dusting of snow--most of the bad weather went north again)

You're welcome Dawn.

You're right Mama Pea--nature is pretty wonderful.

Hi degz,
Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a link to yours. That piece of nesting felt you photographed was really neat. I wonder what creature made it?

Hi Jayne,
I was happy to see it up close, but sad that it won't be decorating my willow tree anymore. I hope the orioles build there again this summer.

Me too! You're welcome Deb.

Thanks Mel, and I totally understand about failed projects! ;-)

This oriole nest up close was a first for me too Kelly. You're welcome.

Hi Gaelyn,
That old willow tree takes a beating in our winds every year. I'm surprised the nest was able to hang there as long as it did--those orioles must have had some frightening rides last summer!

Hi Mom,
I saved the nest in the garage and I'll show it to you the next time you and Dad come over. I used to have some other nice nests too, but I think I left them all at WBU when I stopped working there.

Hi Larry,
That would be fun, wouldn't it, to watch a bird build their nest? I would love to watch a robin or barn swallow. I wonder how long it actually takes them?
I'll watch for the story on your blog!

Hi Cindy, thanks for the suet info. I've still got some plain in the freezer, so maybe I can break off a few chunks each day for the robins.
I'm glad we missed another storm too, just a little dusting of snow this morning--we're mostly complaining about the wind--it just never seems to stop blowing!

Hi Marsha,
I used to put out pieces of yarn too, but the only bird that ever used it was the house sparrow and I try to discourage them from nesting anywhere in my yard.
(I thought the nest looked bigger in the tree too!)

Hi Lynne,
It sure would be fun to watch an oriole building this nest, wouldn't it? I'll have to see if Netflix has any movies about that! ;-)

Hi Mary C,
I'm always fascinated with any bird nest I find. Robins are the easiest and once I found a goldfinch nest too--that was really neat--all lined with thistledown.
If I remember where the nests are after nesting season, I usually try to save a couple.

LOL Red -- you're right about that!!

mp said...


This past weekend we found an oriole nest at our cottage north of Toronto. It is similar in that it was made with pieces of blue tarp as well. I thought it was interesting, my son is taking into school tomorrow to share with his class. Have a nice day.

Ashley said...

Thank you SO much for posting these gorgeous pictures! My son read a paragraph in his English lesson today describing an oriole nest and we wondered what a real one might look we found your blog and what fun it was to see them originally hanging in your trees and then after they fell see them up close! I am so excited to find this - we don't see oriole nests here at all - if there are any in Texas, I've not spotted them in our 'neck of the woods'!! Beautiful pics & they helped us get a better visual of what we were trying picture in our minds from his lesson!