Many Organic Valley farms have been in the same family for several generations and have large stately trees growing about the farm and the yard. Often the trees around the yard were planted at the same time as the farm was built.
The farmers then would opt for a tree that would grow quickly and provide lots of shade. Pine trees were nice and they grew fast but didnít give off the shade that a large canopy of leaves could provide.
Oak trees were firm in the face of strong winds and provided good shade but they grow so slowly. Often the trees of choice were the American elm or the soft maple. They both grow very fast and get very big with full round tops that when full of green leaves, would shade the farm house from the hot summer sun.
When I drive into a farm yard I always notice what kind of trees are growing. If there are large elm or soft maple trees, I may pause and listen for the song of a Baltimore oriole. The long drooping branches of these big trees are a favorite place for the orioles to attach their woven, bag-like nests to.
There was a time when the large American elms were a common sight in every small town or farm. The orioles often chose these trees for their nest sites. Because of the dreadful Dutch elm disease, many of the large trees have died and were cut down. The orioles had to find another place to hang their nests. Often they choose the hanging limbs of a large soft maple or willow.
If you have these trees in your yard, listen for the lovely soft whistle of the Baltimore oriole in the branches. You may not be able to see the nest until the leaves drop in the fall. Then the nest will stick out like a sore thumb, hanging from the end of a long limb.
If you feed the birds all year as I do, you may attract orioles close to the house by placing the halves of oranges in places where you can watch them. The orioles canít resist the sweet juice of the orange as well as its familiar color.
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