We were riding our bikes on the rail trail when I passed it on the ground. I slammed on the brakes. Tim was way ahead of me, of course. It was an oriole nest. I picked it up and stuck it in my pack. Now we keep it in Tim’s studio.
An oriole nest is a perfect, woven sack. Orioles build them high up in the tree, in branches overhanging streams, paths, roads. It seems I often see them in what I think is the same place from year to year, but a little research tells me that orioles don’t reuse nests—although they may recycle materials from old nests in the same tree.
There was an oriole nest in the tree in our next-door neighbor’s front yard. The tree was half dead. We could see the nest when it was occupied, and it stayed where it was for a couple of years, I think. It survived winters and windstorms. I loved walking under it, looking up, seeing it was still there.
At the beginning of January, my neighbors took the tree down.
It was the right thing to do. But I hate seeing trees go, and I hate losing that oriole nest, that oriole tree. I wonder if they’ll feel betrayed.
Of course, orioles and their nests will still be around. I’ll see them along the rail trail. I’ll see them on that particular bend of the Mettawee River if I wade up far enough. And there’s a tree across the street, way up on the hill, where—if I stretch my hammock between the hooks on my porch and actually lie down in it (an all-too-rare occurrence), then place binoculars to my eyes—I can see them flitting in and out of a nest. They are so perfectly orange against the blue blue sky.