Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
25 May 2019, 12:40 PM,
#1
Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
This morning, 25 May 2019, at Cameron Trading Post, Chuck LaRue and I were watching Cedar Waxwings and Western Tanagers in the mulberry tree when we heard an unusual flute-like song coming from high in the elms. The culprit ended up being a first-summer male Orchard Oriole. The bird moved around constantly, from within the Courtyard, to the trees outside of the courtyard to the west, the trees in front of the gallery shop, and even over to the dog walk. Fortunately, it sang frequently (and loudly) and so could be chased all around the complex. The bird was notable for its very small size for an oriole (not much bigger than a warbler) and slight rusty wash coming in on the breast. Orchard Oriole has been a long time coming for me in AZ, so this was pretty satisfying.

Also lurking around the Courtyard was a skulky Swainson's Thrush.

Neither bird gave good opportunities for photos, but I did get audio of the Orchard Oriole song, along with bad pictures.

Audio here: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/160806191

   

   

   

Jason
Flagstaff, AZ


[url=https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/160806191][/url]
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26 May 2019, 5:46 AM,
#2
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
I found one more picture that I'd overlooked on my camera. Still not great, but you can get a sense for the small size of the bird next to the cottonwood leaves:

   
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31 May 2019, 12:19 PM,
#3
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
Chuck LaRue reports that an Orchard Oriole continues today, 31 May, in the Cameron Courtyard, though he wonders if it is perhaps a different individual.

Jason
Flagstaff, AZ
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5 Jun 2019, 12:08 PM,
#4
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
The/a subadult male Orchard Oriole was actively singing and providing good looks at the Cameron courtyard on Wednesday 5 June 2019 at around 0840.  It appears that two individuals are involved in these recent sightings because the bird seen initially on 25 May had clearly worn and frayed tail feathers (especially the outer feathers) which were visible in the field and in some photos of other observers (see particularly at least one of K. Hart's images posted on eBird). On the 31st and today, the bird I observed clearly did not have heavily worn outer tail feathers although I could see the middle feathers appeared frayed.
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6 Jun 2019, 11:41 AM,
#5
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
Here is the best photographic evidence that addresses Chuck's outrageous assertion:
May 25: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56723386
June 1: https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S56975799
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6 Jun 2019, 7:35 PM,
#6
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
Although the photos are not adequate (to my mind) to answer my outrageous assertion I will leave it at this: the bird I observed on May 25th (I don't know what Jason was looking at :>) ) had very heavily frayed tail feathers (as in Hart's center photo on eBird) that were readily apparent (and recalled, for example, the tail feathers of a Brown Creeper) and the bird I saw on May 31 appeared not to have severely frayed tail feathers... and the bird seen well on June 5th clearly did not have heavily fray tail feathers (other than the deck feathers).  While I won't stake my life on it, the thought that two Orchard Orioles may be involved is a reasonable hypothesis and, while unlikely, is not out of the realm of possibility.  I can't think of a better explanation. To complicate matters, there is a secondhand report from some southern AZ birders finding a subadult male Hooded Oriole at the courtyard today. It was speculated by some others that my fresher-tailed bird could have been this Hooded Oriole. I wish to respectfully dispel such idle notions by pointing out that the bird was small (about the size of the House Sparrows which were seen several times in close proximity), had the bill structure of an Orchard rather than a Hooded oriole and, importantly, was vigorously singing a Hooded Oriole song.  So whatever is going on at the courtyard with orioles, it would be informative if others who might happen by this site in the next few days were aware of the Two-Orchard-Oriole hypothesis/possibility and pay close attention to the condition of the tail feathers and obtain more photos.
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6 Jun 2019, 7:43 PM,
#7
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
I could have sworn I saw a second Orchard Oriole on the Grassy Knoll...
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6 Jun 2019, 7:55 PM,
#8
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
I will not be gaslighted :>)
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6 Jun 2019, 9:18 PM,
#9
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
The bird in both Hart's photos and in Hart's photos (coincidence ?) shows a reddish arc on the left cheek.
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11 Jun 2019, 6:13 PM,
#10
RE: Orchard Oriole at Cameron Trading Post
I initially thought there MIGHT be two Orchard Orioles (..Jason...) being fully aware of the fact that such a thing would be unlikely. I wasn't ready to declare one way or the other what I thought might explain what was going on until more information was available. However Brian Johnson's good 8 June undertail photos on ebird show two fresh outer tail feathers.  I think what explains the worn/unworn oriole tail is the outer pair of feathers are currently growing in (and may by now be done growing) . Thus from the initial observation on 25 May to my June 5 observation, 11 days had elapsed.  I'd have to check but I think this is enough time for a tail feather on a bird this size to grow to near maturity.
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