I went to the door one spring morning and there on the flowering currant bush was an Orchard Oriole taking his breakfast from the blossoms. Then, one day in summer, the Golden Robin flew past me like a streak of gold. Those were our first Orioles. It was the year of 1888.
I saw a dance performed by two male Orchard Orioles. Within an angle of our house are two large flowering currant bushes that stand close together like a hedge, and just beyond is the grape arbor. As nearly as they could the birds kept about a foot apart and hopped from twig to twig as if keeping time to music. They danced side by side through and through the bushes, then went dancing down the vines of the arbor.
I was invited to see a bird’s nest. It proved to be an Orchard Oriole’s and was as unique as the dance. A cup rested on a limb of a small young apple tree and was held in place by three woven chains made fast to a limb about ten inches above it.
For several years all the nests of the Baltimore Oriole that I found, and many that my friends brought and sent to me, were made of a wild flax. At first they looked like flax when wound on the distaff. After while, now and then, there were no more flaxen nests.
I have a beautiful nest that is woven entirely of black horse hair except one thread of coarse black twine that embroiders it.
Every spring I scatter threads of twine and hang out skeins in trees. It is surprising how much twine the birds will take if it is provided for them.
Editor’s Note: Jane Brooks Hine (1831-1916) was a Bird Woman a generation before Gene Stratton-Porter. Her writing on the Orioles was in one of her birding journals. It was also part of her writings in the 1911 Indiana Biennial Report.