Oriole Oriole
Today's News Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North

Oriole Migration Update: March 2, 2000

Today's Report Includes:

Where in the World Are Orioles?
When the oriole returns to its nest in your backyard this spring, it will have just completed a remarkable round trip journey to Central America and back! But orioles are still on their wintering grounds. If you can answer this riddle, you'll know one of the countries where orioles are right now:

"This country is in Central America. It is known for its efforts in preserving approximately 28% of its original rainforest. Many tourists visit to see the rainforest and more than 800 different kinds of birds that live hereóincluding winter visitors such as orioles from North America. The size of West Virginia, this small country has more kinds of birds than are found in all the continental U.S. and Canada combined. Its name means "Coast of Riches."

If you're stumped, keep reading. You'll find the country mentioned at least three times in this report!

The Word From Costa Rica
Journey North was lucky to hear from naturalist Carrol Henderson, who recently returned from a birding trip to Costa Rica. He told us, "We saw lots and lots of orioles, probably because this is the time of year--the dry season--when a number of trees lose their leaves and produce pink, yellow, and orange flowers. Orioles feed among these flowers, eating the petals, fruits, and nectar. Often they feed with the local nonmigratory birds, all in the same tree. Six to 10 kinds of birds might be feeding in one tree! In 17 days of travel in Costa Rica, we encountered one ruby-throated hummingbird, although we spotted 29 kinds of hummers. Out of all those, the only migratory species of hummer was the ruby-throated hummingbird."

Weather and Migration: Dr. Aborn's Weather Watch
We're delighted that Dr. David Aborn, at the University of Tennessee, is back again this spring to help us figure out just how birds take advantage of weather systems to migrate. This year Dr. Aborn will also share what he discovers about migratory and breeding birds at a newly protected area called Lula Lake, where he heads an exciting new project.

Dr. Aborn explains, "Birds like to fly in good weather,and they land when the weather is bad. Birds want to fly with a tailwind to help them travel farther." So, what creates a tailwind? What do weather "highs" and "lows" mean for migration? What does a cold front mean to birds on the wing? Find these answers and more at:

Weather Forecast for the Birds
"Over the course of this spring, I will be pointing out areas where there might be lots of migrants landing as a result of the weather, and reporting what I and other people have been seeing. So what does this week look like?" Read Dr. Aborn's full report at:

Until next time,

Dr. David Aborn
Univeristy of Tennessee

Home On The Range
Orioles and hummingbirds are two species of neotropical migrants tracked by Journey North. (The word "neo" means new and "tropical" refers to the region between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. This region includes such places as Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and parts of South America.) Compare the range maps for hummingbirds and for orioles below, both seen by Carrol Henderson in Costa Rica, and see if you can answer:

Challenge Question #1:
"Why do you think it's so much easier to see orioles than ruby-throated hummingbirds in Costa Rica?"

Map by
Macalester College

Map by
Macalester College

What's the Difference?
The oriole range map shows the wintering and breeding ranges for Baltimore orioles and Bullock's orioles. What's the difference between these two kinds of orioles? That's this week's:

Challenge Question #2:
"What differences can you name between Baltimore orioles and Bullock's orioles?"

(To respond to these questions, follow the instructions below.

Life in the Tropics
Orioles don't often sing while wintering in the tropics, and they don't establish territories down there. In fact, orioles do lots of things differently in their tropical feeding grounds than when they're in their northern breeding grounds. What do they sound like? What habitat do they prefer? Read all about it--and how orioles spend tropical days and nights:

As you read, look for ways that show how oriole behavior in the wintering grounds is different from behavior in the summer breeding grounds. List differences you find, then answer:

Changing Seasons, Changing Behaviors

Challenge Question #3:
"What are some reasons why orioles might change behaviors on their wintering grounds from how they act on the northern breeding grounds in spring?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Try This! Wish You Were Here
The tropics are a great place to spend the winter if you're a songbird from the north. At this moment, the orioles have had to survive the fall migration to a country far away from their summer breeding grounds. Do you wonder what route they took to get there? How far they flew? What they saw along the way? What's good to eat? What the scenery is like, or the weather? If you were an oriole, what would you write on a vacation postcard to feathered friends back home? Try it, and see this Journey North Activity for more ideas:

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions
Please answer ONLY ONE question in EACH e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to: jn-challenge-oriole@learner.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #1 (or #2. . . or #3).
3. In the body of EACH message, give your answer to ONE of the questions above.

The Next Oriole Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 16, 2000

Copyright 2000 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

Today's News Today's News Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North