On January 31st a resident of Berks County, Pennsylvania, found a very strange oriole in their yard. Someone quickly identified it as a Black-backed Oriole. If this bird is accepted it could be potential 1st ABA record.
The bird was seen at 20 or 21 Indiana Avenue, Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania.
The people in the neighbourhood were open to visitors but there were rules to be followed.
Viewing only between 7:30 and 4, please sign the logbook, please stay on the sidewalk and be courteous.
Well after a month of indecision and seeing numerous photos of this Oriole, I decided to make the 1500 km pilgrimage to see the bird. I asked the guys if anyone was interested in going and Richard Killeen said he’d love to go see the oriole.
Richard and I had decided that to go March 1st at the end of my shift but the weather was terrible, rain and snow all the way. So we left on the Thursday at 5am but weather still wasn’t great, winds were high, with falling and blowing snow.
There was a Clarks Grebe in Oswego which was on the way but when we got there the winds were blowing at 50-60 mph in our face so we had no chance of seeing that bird.
Not much else happened and we arrived in Sinking Spring at 2pm. One birder was standing on the sidewalk and told us that the Oriole had just been there and she’d seen it 3 times in 30 minutes.
It didn’t take long and the Oriole came in to feed on the grapes that had been put out for it. Below is a composite photo of the bird, showing top and front views, because we had to stay on the sidewalk, these images are from over 150 feet.
After 30 minutes it was time to head home, there really wasn’t much time to bird n the way home, so we drove straight home arriving at 11:00pm.
Eventually they may say this is an escapee but regardless its a beauty.
Ciao for now….
Notably, this is not the first incidence of this species in the ABA Area. In 2000, a Black-backed Oriole was present from April-June in San Diego, California, returning the next summer. That bird was accepted by that state’s Bird Records Committee until it was refound in its preferred eucalyptus grove in January of 2002, at which point the committee felt it had reason to suspect that it was an escaped cage bird and removed it from the list in as much as its status could be determined. Many observers believed that this species was still a good candidate to occur in the ABA Area, though perhaps none would have predicted Pennsylvania. More information on the California bird is available here.