From staff reports
South Carolina’s 2021 Baltimore Oriole Winter Survey, conducted recently by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), had a record-breaking number of participants and orioles tallied.
This year the survey had 180 participants, and 859 orioles were reported. This was double SCDNR’s largest previous participation and almost double the largest number of orioles tallied.
SCDNR’s survey Feb. 12-15 was held in conjunction with the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The combination of these citizen-science projects allowed SCDNR to get a better picture of the status and distribution of this beautiful songbird wintering in the Palmetto State.
Participants counted and reported the largest number of orioles they could see at one time, in one view, on one, two, three or all four days of the survey period. When possible, the age and sex of the orioles were recorded as well.
Participants were also encouraged to report the absence of orioles, when they have had them in past winters. Reporting the absence of orioles is just as important to the survey as the number of orioles seen. Even if participants were unable to participate during the survey period, they could report the numbers of orioles, using the same counting procedure as for the survey, to report oriole numbers seen during the winter months (December, January and February).
“The large numbers of orioles reported this year does not necessarily reflect a notable increase in the wintering population, but rather a result of increased participation and weather conditions,” said Lex Glover, wildlife technician with SCDNR’s Bird Conservation Program. “We had an impressive 124 new participants this year, due to survey announcements through press releases and social media outlets. Also, increased interest in bird-feeding activities, spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, contributed to the awareness of this species visiting feeders. The weather during the survey period, rainy and cold, likely had orioles frequenting feeders more often than in previous surveys. Feeders provided them with food resources, while weather conditions were not favorable for foraging for natural foods.”
Next year’s SCDNR Baltimore Oriole Winter Survey and Great Backyard Bird Count will be Feb. 18-21, 2022. If you have orioles frequenting your feeders during the winter months, (December, January and February), or know someone who does, SCDNR would like for you to participate in the survey. For more information on the Baltimore Oriole Winter Survey, contact Lex Glover at GloverL@dnr.sc.gov.