Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
Vol 1. January, 1897 No. 1
THE GOLDEN ORIOLE
E find the Golden Oriole in America only. According to Mr. Nuttall, it is migratory, appearing in considerable numbers in West Florida about the middle of March. It is a good songster, and in a state of captivity imitates various tunes.
This beautiful bird feeds on fruits and insects, and its nest is constructed of blades of grass, wool, hair, fine strings, and various vegetable fibers, which are so curiously interwoven as to confine and sustain each other. The nest is usually suspended from a forked and slender branch, in shape like a deep basin and generally lined with fine feathers.
“On arriving at their breeding locality they appear full of life and activity, darting incessantly through the lofty branches of the tallest trees, appearing and vanishing restlessly, flashing at intervals into sight from amidst the tender waving foliage, and seem like living gems intended to decorate the verdant garments of the fresh clad forest.”
It is said these birds are so attached to their young that the female has been taken and conveyed on her eggs, upon which with resolute and fatal instinct she remained faithfully sitting until she expired.
An Indiana gentleman relates the following story:
“When I was a boy living in the hilly country of Southern Indiana, I remember very vividly the nesting of a pair of fine Orioles. There stood in the barn yard a large and tall sugar tree with limbs within six or eight feet of the ground.
“At about thirty feet above the ground I discovered evidences of an Oriole’s nest. A few days later I noticed they had done considerably more work, and that they were using horse hair, wool and fine strings. This second visit seemed to create consternation in the minds of the birds, who made a great deal of noise, apparently trying to frighten me away. I went to the barn and got a bunch of horse hair and some wool, and hung it on limbs near the nest. Then climbing up higher, I concealed myself where I could watch the work. In less than five minutes they were using the materials and chatted with evident pleasure over the abundant supply at hand.
“They appeared to have some knowledge of spinning, as they would take a horse hair and seemingly wrap it with wool before placing it in position on the nest.
“I visited these birds almost daily, and shortly after the nest was completed I noticed five little speckled eggs in it. The female was so attached to the nest that I often rubbed her on the back and even lifted her to look at the eggs.”
According to the article, the bird came here to Florida. Checking Thayer’s Birding Software and limiting it to Florida and Orioles, I think it must have been the Spot-breasted or the Hooded (but they don’t come to Florida, so it must be the Spot-breasted) Oriole as we call it today. The only “Golden Oriole” is the “Golden Oriole or European (or Eurasian) Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) is the only member of the oriole family of passerine birds breeding in northern hemisphere temperate regions. It is a summer migrant in Europe and western Asia and spends the winter season in the tropics.” “The African Golden Oriole (Oriolus auratus) is a member of the oriole family of passerine birds which is a resident breeder in Africa south of the Sahara and the “Indian Golden Oriole (Oriolus kundoo)” of India. All three of those birds leave Florida and Indiana out of the picture.
The Orioles are actually found in two different families; the Icteridae – Oropendolas, Orioles, & Blackbirds Family (New World) and the Oriolidae – Figbirds, Orioles Family (Old World).
New World orioles, comprising the genus Icterus, are a group of birds in the blackbird family. They are not related to Old World orioles which are in the family Oriolidae, but are strikingly similar in size, diet, behaviour and in their strongly contrasting plumage, and are a good example the Lord’s Creative Hand. Because of similarities and being from the same kind, the two took the same vernacular name.
The males are typically black and yellow or orange, with white markings; the plumage of females and immature birds is duller. These birds go through one moult in a year. They are generally slender with long tails and a pointed bill. They mainly eat insects, often also nectar and fruit. The nest is a woven, elongated pouch. Several species are easy to attract to birdtables by the provision of cut oranges and grape jelly. Species nesting in areas with cold winters (including most of the United States) are strongly migratory, while subtropical and tropical species are more sedentary.
The name “oriole” was first recorded (in the Latin form oriolus) by Albertus Magnus in about 1250, and was stated by him to be onomatopoeic, from the song of the European Golden Oriole.
The genus name Icterus as used by classical authors, referred to a bird with yellow or green plumage. In modern times this has been identified as the golden oriole. Brisson re-applied the name to the New World birds because of their similarity in appearance.
Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction
The above article is the tenth article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.
To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)
Next Article – Vol 1 #2 February 1897
Previous Article – The Red-Rumped Tanager
New World Oriole – Wikipedia
Spot-breasted Oriole – Wikipedia
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Very nice article and great coverage of the Bird series – and thank you for your kind words about my post about the same article that appears here as a pingback (I corrected my Guestbook response). Your oriole post gave me a start on my own investigation.
As I wrote in my post – I think it might be the orchard oriole once we consider that at least some of them travel to Indiana for breeding season. But considering some of the ambiguities of other mystery birds in the issue, the editors may have combined what we now consider to be different orioles into the “Golden Oriole.”
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What a beautiful post! I was looking for evidence of someone else spotting a golden oriole in Florida. I saw one today in some palm trees. I may have escaped captivity since they do not migrate to Miami, like everyone else!
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Heading to Miami in the morning to go to Zoo Miami’s Wings of Asia. Maybe we will spot one down there. That photos was taken years ago. We now live in Central FL.
Common in Lake Chapla in DEC Jan. Etc Doug BROADHURST