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The Hooded Oriole's Choice of Nesting Sites in the Settled Portions of Southern California

Hilda W. Grinnell
6 (November-December)
From Field and Study
Online Text

The Hooded Orioles ’ Choice of Nesting Sites in the Settled Portions of Southern California.-The statement of Ewan (Condor, 46, 1944:205) that the nesting of Hooded Orioles (Zcterus cucullatzts) in banana plants has apparently not been noted in the literature led me to wonder how extensive his search had been, for in my childhood days in Los Angeles County such nestings were not uncommon. Surely some writer had recorded this predilection of the Hooded Oriole.

Turning to my bookshelf I find that at least four authors have listed such nestings: Bendire, Life Histories of North American Birds, 2, 1895:478, says: “Mr. R. H. Lawrence took a nest of this Oriole containing four eggs near Monrovia, California, on May 19, 1893 ; this nest, which he kindly sent me, was attached to the underside of a banana leaf, about 9% feet from the ground. Two other nests were subsequently met with in similar situations, one of these probably belonging to the pair whose eggs had been previously taken.” Mailliard (Condor, 5, 1903:99), writing from Santa Barbara, says of the Hooded Orioles: “. . . these birds confined themselves entirely to the gardens in the town, where their nests were frequently in evidence under the overhanging leaves of bananas and palms, with telltale shreds of fibre hanging down sometimes for a foot or so.” Dawson (Birds Calif., 1, 1921:92) tells of a pair of these orioles which built five trial nests, two of which were constructed in a banana tree. Wyman and Burnell (Field Book Birds Southwestern U.S., 1925:169) say of the Hooded Oriole: “Nest under a palm or banana leaf, where these occur ; otherwise usually in a sycamore or cottonwood.”

In his excellent study of the way in which the introduction of the eucalyptus tree has affected the habits of thirty-eight species of birds near his home in Orange County, John McB. Robertson (Condor, 33, 1931: 137-139) mentions the nesting of a Hooded Oriole in one of these trees. Among other authors who make similar mention are Sharp (Condor, 9, 1907:88), who records the species as nesting “mostly in the eucalyptus groves,” in San Diego County, and T. D. Hurd (Ornith. and Ool., 15, 1890: 13), who gives the locations of fifteen nests of the Hooded Oriole in the settled district of Riverside. Seven of these nests were in ‘Washington fan palms, seven in eucalyptus trees, and one in an English walnut tree. In regard to the choice of nesting sites he says: “it is a noticeable fact that the second nests are more commonly attached to the leaves of the palm tree. Why this is I do not know, unless they want to begin laying as soon as possible, and therefore build where material is most easily obtained.”

Illingsworth (Condor, 3, 1901:99) states that the preference of the Hooded Oriole, as he has observed it in Los Angeles County, is for large-leaved trees, usually palms. He adds: “Often the nest is hung between several leaves such as those of the fig tree.”

Mrs. Bailey (Florence A. Merriam, Auk, 13, 1896:120) says of a pair of Hooded Orioles which nested in an oak tree at Twin Oaks, San Diego County: “They made their entire nest of the orangecolored parasitic vine, the dodder of the meadows.“-HILDA  W. GRINNELL, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Berkeley, *California, September 16, 1944. 

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