Orioles, Grosbeaks, and Warblers, Oh My!

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Look to the treetops! Ohio’s spring migrants are winging their way through your backyard all throughout the month of May! Keep your eyes peeled because they may be stopping in your yard in order to stock up on insects and fruit.

A gorgeous male Baltimore Oriole ready to feed on a fresh orange
A gorgeous male Baltimore Oriole ready to feed on an orange




A female yellow warbler
A female yellow warbler


Now is the most opportune time to view vireos, warblers and other visitors before the foliage comes out and the tree canopy brings down the curtain on this show.

Male Baltimore Oriole feasting on grape jelly
Male Baltimore oriole feasting on grape jelly

The main attraction, at least in my yard, has been the Baltimore Oriole! This vibrant male orange and black songbird, who is closely related to the meadowlark and other blackbird species, has an affinity for backyard feeders. You may also see the females feeding nearby with their dominant body color a yellow green with white accented brown wings. Orange halves and grape jelly are two of their preferred sources of fruit (see in the photos), and they will also drink from feeders designed to contain hummingbird nectar.

Adult Male rose-breasted grosbeak
Adult male rose-breasted grosbeak


Another fantastic songbird arriving in Ohio is the rose-breasted Grosbeak. Through my observation, I have found that they usually prefer the black oil sunflower seed, but Grosbeaks have also been reported feeding on raw peanut splits and safflower seed. The males are a patterned black and white with a crimson-colored front, while the females are donned in a more modest brown with white facial accents.

American Robin feeding two nestlings
American robin feeding two nestlings




With all the activity of Ohio’s latest visitors, it can be easy to overlook the affairs of some of the birds we have in our yard all year long. Many songbirds, including Red-bellied Woodpeckers, American Robins, and Northern Cardinals, have already built nests and begun raising young. Keep a sharp eye out for any parents carrying nesting material or food, and you may just see them fly back to an active nest!



Text and Photos by Anna Rose, SENR student