"Colors are the smiles of nature." ~Leigh Hunt
And what a lovely smile this little beauty is! He is also the result of several years of patience on my part. I've always dreamed of attracting Orioles to my yard. Every year I would faithfully put out my oranges and grape jelly and every year they would pass me by. That is, until this year! And honestly, if I had blinked, I would have missed it. This handsome dude stopped only briefly, but it was enough of a tease that I will continue to put out my oranges every spring. Who knows? Maybe next year he'll bring his friends! 🙂
Of course, those beautiful bright feathers have a purpose. The bright colors on males not only help attract females, but also help them to advertise their territory. If another male sees those bright colors in a territory that is not his own, he is put on notice to leave or prepare for battle.
Some of the colors in a bird's feathers are produced by pigments and the most common pigments in birds are called melanins. They give feathers the soft yellow through red-brown, dark brown, and black appearance. But Carotenoids are usually responsible for producing yellow, orange, and red and are the pigments responsible for making the Baltimore Oriole a show stopper!
Birds usually make their own pigments, but sometimes they get them from their food. So a change in diet can sometimes change a bird's color. Some orioles look more red or yellow than normal, and tanagers may look orange, when their diets have more or less of some fruits. Waxwings usually have a bright yellow band at the tip of their tails, but diet can turn this orange. If flamingoes don't eat enough shrimp, they can't produce the pigment that makes their feathers so pink and they become white. (Thanks to journeynorth.org for this info)
So how about it? Have you had any show-stoppers visit your yard? Perhaps a beautiful red Cardinal? Or a sky-blue Bluebird? Let me know your favorite in the comments below.
Stay well, my friends! Take the time to enjoy Mother Nature, even if it is just looking out your window. Be still and listen to the beautiful earth song being sung all around you. I promise you; it is a symphony like no other! Nature is good for the soul! Baltimore Oriole, male
Middlesex County, MA