Q: “Hi, Chip. I recently took the two attached pics along the Marion Tallgrass Trail in Marion County and was wondering what birds they are? The first was nesting (or trying to) in a nest box along the trail. I assume it’s a swift of some kind? The second I’m guessing is an oriole — do you know which one?” Thanks! Really appreciate your nature expertise. Rick Boss, Consolidated Cooperative
A: The first bird appears to be a tree swallow, Rick, one of six swallow species found in Ohio; the other five are: purple martin, northern rough-winged swallow, bank swallow, cliff swallow, and barn swallow. As cavity nesters, tree swallows readily use nest boxes intended for other bird species, such as bluebirds or wood ducks. Following barn swallows, tree swallows are the most common swallow seen in Ohio and by far the hardiest. A few return to the Buckeye State as early as late February each year, and the birds become numerous by late March.
And yes, you are correct; your second photo is of an oriole — a male Baltimore oriole. This past spring was one for the record books concerning oriole migration in Ohio. Everyone was seeing them. A friend of mine who feeds birds year round counted more than 30 of these bright orange and black birds at his feeders at one time! A second, less colorful species of oriole — the orchard oriole — can also be seen in Ohio, but it is not nearly as numerous as the Baltimore. If you’d like to attract orioles, try putting out slices of oranges or a small container or two of grape jelly. Orioles may even occasionally visit hummingbird feeders to drink the sugar water.