This series highlights several of my favorite birds, all of which can be found in Wisconsin. I have found all of the birds included in the series (with one exception). Each cache is somehow related to the highlighted bird. In many cases you will find hints to finding the cache in the information provided about each bird. Each cache is hidden in roughly the environment the bird can be found. None of the caches are hidden in a nesting box or a fake nest (with one exception of a very non-standard nest), so if you find a nest or nesting box—please leave it alone it has nothing to do with the cache.
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
Considering the bright orange and black markings of the male Baltimore Oriole, it is somewhat surprising that this bird is more often heard than seen. The Baltimore Oriole is typically found high in the canopy of a deciduous tree. Since his perch is often obscured by leaves, the male’s pleasing flute-like song is the surest indication that he is in the area. The bird’s name comes from the fact that the male’s bright colors reminded early settlers of the bright orange and black family crest of Lord Baltimore. The bird also reminded these settlers of the Old World Oriole (while bearing some resemblance in appearance, the two species are unrelated). Because in its western range the Baltimore Oriole frequently inter-breeds with the Bullock Oriole, the two species were considered variants of one species which was called the Northern Oriole. However, DNA studies have confirmed that the two species are distinct and are once again listed under their separate names.
Many people enjoy attracting the fruit loving Baltimore Oriole to their yards by putting out orange slices or grape jelly. The Orioles are also occasional visitors to hummingbird feeders. Unlike most fruit eating birds, the Baltimore Oriole will only eat ripe fruit. They will occasionally peck at a berry with a closed bill and then open their bills inside the berry drinking the juice. The birds also enjoy sipping nectar. However, the Orioles’ primary diet is insects. And as much as the birds love fruit, the true delicacy for the Baltimore Oriole are tent caterpillars. The Orioles will repeatedly whack the caterpillar against a branch until all the hairs have been skinned off before downing this delicious treat.
The female Baltimore Oriole constructs one of the most ingenious nests of all North American birds. She carefully weaves a hanging nest from an upper branch of a deciduous tree. The nest resembles a wool sock hanging from a branch. She weaves the nest in three steps working from outside in. She first weave a strong supportive network of flexible fibers which provides structure for the nest. Inside of this outer shell she adds springy fibers which helps shape the nest as well as providing cushioning for the eggs. Finally, she lines the nest with fine hair, and fibers from down and other feathers. Despite her well constructed nest placed in inaccessible locations, studies indicate that as many as 16% of all eggs are lost to predation.
Dog lovers please note: While Prairie Moraine County Park contains an excellence dog park, the cache is hidden in the part of the park that is not a dog park. Dogs must on a leash in this section of the park.
This cache is located in Prairie Moraine County Park. Permit for placement has been approved by the Dane County Parks Department. A copy of the permit maybe obtained by emailing me at the above link.