Originally Published: May 15, 2017 5:59 a.m.
Do you like grape jelly? If so, come on over to my house, because this time of year I buy two-pound jars by the case. Oh, and don’t bother to bring the peanut butter.
I give the jelly to the biggest jelly eaters of all time — orioles. Yes, they are back. Bullock, Hooded and Scott’s orioles have found their way back to my little feeding station in Skull Valley. Flying thousands of miles, the Bullocks come from Costa Rica, just to have babies in the big trees around my house and to gobble up grape jelly. Lots of it.
Several years ago I noticed the beautiful orange and black birds hanging around the hummingbird feeders. They kept trying to get at the juice. After reading up, I got a few liquid oriole feeders and filled them with orange nectar. All day the orioles would drink at my feeders. Then I read that they liked grape jelly and ordered a dainty little feeder that had two small cups about the size of shot glasses that I filled with jelly. I discovered that orioles LOVE grape jelly.
What started out as a few orioles enjoying the juice and jelly, has turned into a major feeding operation. Forget those silly little shot glasses! I need trays of jelly! I suppose the original colony of orioles told all of their friends that there is a place in Skull Valley with delicious treats, because all day long dozens and dozens of them hover around the hanging jelly trays. The birds arrive in April, build their nests, have their babies and do nothing but eat for three months. Then in late July they move on, making the long journey back to Costa Rica.
Is the coffee I’m drinking harming birds? I loved coffee from Costa Rica, but birds need shade, so I stopped buying it. Natural habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate. So my little feathered friends have increased my awareness. Maybe there is more we can learn from our feathered friends. They have a purpose. They have a destination and know where they are going. They live their lives with duty, perseverance and passion. They are born to follow their “path” and will not be persuaded to alter their course. They stay together, build comfy nests, nurture, feed, comfort and care for their babies in a tireless manner. And when it is time to go, they leave. No long goodbyes.
I have been thinking about bird travel. No cellphones, maps, GPS to guide them. They have harrowing and dangerous flight paths, stormy weather, long trips made with constantly beating wings. Sometimes the mature males arrive first in Skull Valley, then followed by the girls. The boys often leave first. How will they ever find each other? How do they fly so far and never seem to get lost?
If you see an orange cloud in the southwest sky, Dear Readers, do not be alarmed. It is just my orioles. Stop on by and maybe bring a jar of peanut butter, because I have the jelly and lunch could be waiting.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.