Tucked beneath a swaying palm frond is the well concealed nest of the hooded oriole.
The tiny cup of woven grasses sewn to the leaf of a native Sabal palm is home to four little orioles that will spend approximately two weeks here before fledging. Both the male and female tend to the young, and rarely more than ten minutes passes without one of them flying in with an insect.
Green grasshoppers seem to be the number one item on the menu, and at the rate they are being devoured the hungry brood will consume at least sixty of the savory insects per day. Viewed from the underside of the leaf, there is only a small window open to the hidden nest. Despite the sturdy construction, the female occasionally inspects the structure for any needed repairs, but she has apparently done a thorough job and no renovations are required. Grasshoppers are not the sole cuisine available to the foursome of hungry diners, and the bright orange male has secured a plump winged creature for the broods TM culinary indulgence. Throughout the day from dawn to dusk the devoted parents make delivery after delivery to the ravenous siblings.
Like most songbirds, hooded orioles have evolved to fledge their young as quickly as possible to avoid detection by predators, and the longer the chicks stay in the nest the more vulnerable they become. Their chances of surviving are enhanced by an abundant prey base, the diligence of their parents in providing a steady stream of groceries and a very well concealed nest.