Destinations Magazine

Baltimore Orioles Sighted at Second Marsh – Oshawa

By Frame To Frame - Bob And Jean @frametoframebJ

Baltimore Oriole female in spruce tree - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

A visit to Second Marsh in Oshawa is great at any time of the year, but is especially rewarding for birdwatchers.  On a recent visit to the protected wetland, Bob and I were thrilled to see, not one, but many Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula).  At our own home in Toronto, we are lucky to see a Baltimore Oriole once every few years.  This May, we had a male sitting on our arbour early one morning.

Second Marsh Sign - Oshawa - Ontario

It is possible to experience a variety of habitats at Second Marsh including wetlands, meadows, forest, swamp, marsh and shoreline.  

Second Marsh Trail Map - Oshawa - Ontario

It was an unusually hot afternoon in early May when we set out upon the system of trails and boardwalks that crisscross Second Marsh Wildlife Area and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve, two adjacent conservation areas.  Especially helpful to birdwatchers are viewing decks that provide panoramic views of the wetland.  Also, interpretive signs along the trails give visitors input on plant and animal life.

Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

Bob and I could hear the Baltimore Orioles long before we saw them.  All along the Marshland Trail, the air echoed with their song.

Baltimore Oriole female in  thicket - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

Deep in a thicket, I spotted a splash of colour, but it took me several minutes to realize that I was looking at an oriole. 

Baltimore Oriole female in thicket - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

Baltimore Oriole female, sticks out tongue - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

Being a female, the orange plumage was more subdued than that of a male.  She busied herself for several minutes in amongst the thin branches, preening her feathers and hopping about.

Baltimore Oriole female, back - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

In this photo, the greyish plumage on the head and back is clearly visible.

Baltimore Oriole, female - in spruce tree - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

A passing cyclist alarmed the Baltimore Oriole, so she took flight and headed into a patch of spruce trees a short distance away.  Not to be deterred, I crossed the trail and stumbled through knee-deep grasses in search of the bird.  It wasn’t long before I caught sight of her orange-yellow feathers through the masses of newly-formed spruce cones.

Baltimore Oriole female eating in spruce tree - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

The oriole seemed to favour the top of the spruce tree where she deliberately reaped either insects or tender new growth.  I know in my own backyard that the Baltimore Oriole was eating the flower buds on my apple tree.

Baltimore Oriole male hiding in maple tree - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

As I said, the cheerful song of the Baltimore Orioles filled the air, and it wasn’t long before a male darted across the sky and landed in a neighbouring maple tree.  His brilliant flaming breast stood out starkly against the fresh and vibrant green leaves.

Wetland - Flank Trail - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

Bob and I continued along the Marshland Trail towards an apparent Y in the trail.  I was occupied trying to snap a photo of a kinglet in a very dense bush, while Bob explored a short distance ahead on the Flank Trail.  He came running to alert me of 2 more orioles, but I was too late to to catch sight of them.

Afternoon sunshine - Cool Hollow Trail - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

It was along the Cool Hollow Trail where Bob and I caught up with another male Baltimore Oriole.

Baltimore Oriole male, ready to eat - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

The oriole was hopping about from one limb to another there in the maple tree,

Baltimore Oriole male, eating - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

and like the female at the top of the spruce tree, this one seemed to be gleaning something to eat from amongst the maple keys.

Baltimore Oriole male, sings - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

The male Oriole’s sleek black head against the blue sky made a striking image as he burst into song.  

Baltimore Oriole male in tamarack tree - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

Betwixt the remains of an old farm property, the environs of the Cool Hollow Trail and the openness at the edge of the marsh, there were countless Baltiimore Orioles making the area their home.  There was no telling how many we saw, but they seemed to be everywhere.

Shady Glen - Second Marsh - Oshawa - Ontario

When Bob and I reached the end of the Marshland Trail, it seemed that we had left the orioles behind.  Ghost Bush Road, another cleverly-named trail, traverses a wet forest of primarily mature deciduous trees.  We scanned the canopy but saw no further sign of Baltimore Orioles.  But we had had a good day!

Frame To Frame – Bob & Jean

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