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Streak-backed Oriole in Colorado
Mexican Species Confirmed as First State Record

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Connie and Al Kogler of Loveland, Colorado, first discovered an oriole on their feeders December 8, 2007. Al saw the bird first and called Connie to check “something different” on the feeder. Connie thought the bird was a Bullock’s Oriole, which breed in her area, and figured it was late migrating south. Nevertheless, she took some photos before heading out to work.

Photos by Connie Kogler

While at work, Connie posted a message about her oriole to her local email list, COBirds-L. A birding friend, Rachel Hopper, wrote back wondering if Connie had ruled out Streak-backed Oriole. Connie grabbed a Sibley Guide to Birds and grew excited.

She asked her daughter to email her the photos she had taken and sent the photos on to Rachel. Conversation moved to the phone and more friends were called. Andrew Spencer and Cole Wild headed over to Connie’s house despite a snowstorm and confirmed that the oriole was indeed a Streak-backed Oriole—a potential state record.

Connie wrote that the next morning, “brought a flurry of activity.” A total of 80 birders came to her house to see the bird that day. She had to go to work again but managed to greet over 30 of them before she left.

What the Koglers did next was remarkable. They decided to open their home to birders—even when no one was home. For nine days they left their garage door open and instructional notes posted on the door and on the kitchen counter. They also left a guest book. People came in droves. Connie wrote, “Many times after returning to the house from work or errands, we'd read in the guest book who came by to see the bird! By the end of the ninth day we’d had a total of 413 people come through our kitchen.”

Visitors came from as far away as Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Alaska, New Jersey, Maryland, and Winnepeg, Canada. Connie said that many visitors came bearing gifts, “cash for the birdseed and mealworm fund, oranges, grape jelly, suet, bird seed, cookies, fudge, candy, wine, champagne--my goodness we were blessed!”

The Streak-backed Oriole is a Mexican species that is rarely spotted farther north than Arizona, where it is occasionally seen in winter. Connie, a 30-year birder, sits on the board of Colorado Field Ornithologists, which maintains the rare bird records for the state of Colorado, so she knew where to report the bird. It wasn’t long before the bird was confirmed as a state record and reported in local newspapers.

The oriole visited the Kogler's feeders for about four weeks and seemingly was a part of the family. It came daily to feed on the mealworms that Connie worked hard to keep stocked. The Koglers named her Pedro, since she came from Mexico, and then later Pedro Maria when they discovered she was a female rather than a juvenile male). Connie wrote, “I think I've fallen in love with this little bird.”

The Koglers determined that Pedro Maria ate as many as 11.5 mealworms per hour when she was at the feeder. Then on January 1, they watched her eat 103 mealworms in four hours. On January 2 she was gone, apparently well enough fed to make the journey back south.

 
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