When we moved back here behind the barn three years ago, I started putting hummingbird feeders out for the first time in my life. It didn't take long for the little cuties to find me, and I was ecstatic: it was free entertainment, right on my front porch.
When the hummingbirds left for the winter, I missed them; so I decided to see if I could attract other birds to my yard with a feeder. Soon house finches and goldfinches showed up, and life was good. Except, of course, for the cost of the seeds they consumed. But it was worth it.
Last year I saw one Baltimore Oriole at a hummingbird feeder. Only one, and just that one time. But oh, how I longed to attract more of those beautiful orange-breasted birds! On a visit to the Wild Bird Center, I struck up a conversation with a lady who said she and her husband had a pair of them that returned every year. "They love grape jelly," she said. "And oranges."
So I bought an oriole feeder, loaded it with the goodies they are supposed to like, and waited.
It was never touched, and I gave up on the orioles. I stored the feeder away in the garage.
Just a few days ago, I began seeing orioles at the hummingbird feeder. Not once, but several times. Cliff would be sitting in his recliner and he'd see their bright orange little bodies flitting back and forth from one young tree to another. I dug the oriole feeder out of storage and put grape jelly on it, four teaspoons. In an hour, it was all gone, and I decided they would only get grape jelly once a day. Because otherwise this project could run into some money.
"Maybe they'd like a little toast with their jelly," Cliff said sarcastically.
I didn't worry about putting home-made nectar in the oriole feeder, because they seemed to prefer getting that out of the hummingbird feeders... which I had to secure a little better on their hangers because the big orioles kept knocking them down.
I told my sister-in-law next door that I wasn't going to buy oranges for them because they're so expensive. "Oh," she said, "you just put a slice out and it lasts a long time; they don't eat much."
I bought a single orange, which cost me fifty cents; the first slice I placed there lasted about thirty minutes. So, they don't eat much, eh? I think they're going to have to make do with the jelly.
So these days I find myself grocery-shopping for all kinds of birds. I think they've been spreading the word that they've found a sucker. I keep the contents of the hummingbird feeders fresh and wash them thoroughly every three days. I don't throw out as much nectar as I used to, because it's getting mostly consumed by the hoards of birds descending on the place. In fact, it's hard to keep ahead of them. I don't cook my nectar; I simply stir it until it's dissolved and store it in the refrigerator, ready to refill the feeders. I'm a nursemaid for a bunch of birds.
They've definitely found a sucker.