Orange You Glad To See Me?
That’s right…I used the punchline from one of the worst jokes in history for this one, but it seems strangely apt. One thing I’ve learned birding south Texas this spring is that birds are extremely fond of oranges, including birds you just wouldn’t expect to be into citrus (like the Swainson’s Thrush above). My “birds eating oranges” list (one of my oldest and most sacred lists) has increased exponentially since I’ve been here. Not only do many of the resident specialties go crazy for citrus (i.e. Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Altamira Oriole) but a ton of neotropical migrants go for it too. So without further delay, here is just a sample from South Padre Island, Texas.
Prothonotory Warbler. With it’s so-yellow-its-orange color on it’s head and breast, this bird looks right at home next to an orange.
Red-headed Woodpecker. This vagrant that stuck around for a while probably ate nothing but oranges for a whole week, since there is pretty much no habitat fit for a Red-headed Woodpecker anywhere nearby. Oranges save lives.
Scarlet Tanager. Tanagers are known orange addicts.
Summer Tanager. A female poses with her favorite fruit.
Gray Catbird. Normally a suspicous and scolding bird of thickets, catbirds become a bird of close proximity and courage when confronted with a fresh orange.
Orchard Oriole. Orioles, really, really like oranges. They can’t get enough.
Baltimore Oriole. If you ask me, no bird looks more at home with an orange than a male Baltimore. Like peas and carrots.
Tennessee Warbler. Of all warblers, the humble and adaptable TEWA has the strongest preference for oranges.
A Gray-cheeked Thrush contemplates abandoning all dignity and face-diving into an orange.
Northern Parula. It seems like any bird that is tired enough will broaden its diet to include a succulent slice of orange.