Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)

After several failed attempts I finally got this shot before the bird flew off to one of the other trees.

Over repeated visits over a few week, I had heard two or more Baltimore Orioles calling from the top branches of the trees near the observation platform and parking on West Drive in the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge. On my second visit, after Merlin ID identified the bird calls, I saw two individuals chasing each other among the branches. It was frustrating not getting any photographs, as the sky was overcast and the backlight was an issue.

I wanted a "bird posed on a branch" photograph. After multiple visits to the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge, I managed to gather a small collection of images of passing quality. On these visits, the sky was clearer with a bit of sunlight. I’m not sure if it’s the same bird, but I returned to the same spot each time to hear the oriole singing in the branches above my head.

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) · 6 May 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Later in the month, I woke up to clear skies and excitedly made my way to Institute Woods. My goal was to photograph some warblers at a spot I had marked on Google Maps. After finding the Magnolia Warbler, I continued walking the trails, eventually reaching the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge trailhead at West Drive.

Fortunately, more than one Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) individual was calling from the trees. After about 15 minutes, I got the photograph you see in the header. It’s a clearer but not perfect photograph. It’s still not "bird posed on a branch" worthy, but it’s the best I could do on this outing.

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

After weeks without a proper sighting, I finally saw a Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) foraging in the top branches of the trees near the observation deck at Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge. I stood on the platform for nearly 45 minutes but did not get any clear photos. The sky was overcast, and the lighting was poor. I returned the next day and this time I had more luck.

Due to its diverse habitat, which includes a mix of wetlands, forests, and open fields the refuge is a known hotspot for Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia) and many other warbler species. The habitat provides ample food sources, such as insects and berries, and suitable nesting areas. But honestly, for me, finding any kind of warbler in the refuge was challenging even though its location along migratory routes makes it an ideal stopover for warblers during their seasonal migrations.

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) · 2 May 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

This one looks a bit freaky, like it’s possessed by a demon.

I have about two or three hiding in the trees in my backyard. I occasionally see them visit the bird feeder. This one looks a bit freaky, like it’s possessed by a demon.

I think this is a male bird. The Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) primarily eats a varied diet consisting of insects like beetles, ants, and caterpillars, as well as fruits and berries. This omnivorous diet allows them to thrive in a range of habitats, including gardens, woodlands, and shrublands.

Grey Catbirds have incredible vocal abilities. Their song is a series of (loud) musical whistles, squeaks, and chattering sounds. This includes a distinctive cat-like "mew" call, which gives them their name. Grey Catbirds are excellent mimics and can imitate the songs of other bird species and even non-avian sounds. When I am using the Merlin ID app, I am careful to visually check to make sure it wasn’t a catbird. This mimicry is part of their complex vocal repertoire used for communication, territory defense, and attracting mates.