To see a Baltimore Oriole, you would usually have to travel to places such as Nova Scotia – but, if you're very lucky, you could remain in Old Scotia (Scotland) and one might come to you!
Imagine our surprise when, on 5 October 2023, we saw a bird come to our hanging fat-ball feeders. This was a bird that we didn't recognise and couldn't identify from any of the various books and charts we have on British and European birds.
We live in a mainly undisturbed mixed evergreen and deciduous area of West Fife which attracts much rare flora and fauna. Over a few days, the bird got quite used to us and remained close as we moved around outside our house and in our garden. Wondering what this mystery bird was, we contacted the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) which posted a photo on its Facebook page.
The initial photo of the Baltimore Oriole that was posted on Facebook (Rab Boyd).
It started to come to the window feeders to eat the dried mealworms and the suet pellets we put in there. It was quite contented to mix with the other birds at the feeders – Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits and House Sparrows – and was happily feeding with the Greenfinches and Eurasian Bullfinches on our Rosa rugosa hedge.
As it was so happy on the window feeders, it spent much of its time feeding only 30 cm away from us in the kitchen on the other side of the window. Here, we were able to take better photos which enabled Sam Viles of BirdGuides to identify it as a first-winter female Baltimore Oriole. A once-in-a-lifetime viewing!
It stayed with us until Storm Ciarán came [4 November], but we haven't seen it since the inclement weather hit us.
We would like to thank Sam for the identification and the SGA for putting us in contact with Sam.
The Baltimore Oriole enjoyed hanging out on a window feeder just centimetres away from the lucky homeowners, allowing close-up photographs to be taken (Rab Boyd)