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Word of the Week: Wingbar

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Wingbar [WING-bahr] (noun): A line of contrasting color along the coverts of a bird’s wing.

Like with many bird species, you may first notice the vibrant colours of the male Baltimore oriole as it sets the deciduous forest ablaze with its sunburst orange plumage, its contrasting deep black head and back, and large white wingbars. Depending on what it eats, an oriole may have different tones in its feathers from peach to red (red having been recently observed in orioles at Tommy Thompson park and linked to the consumption of berries from an introduced species of honeysuckle).

Yet, it is the paler, olive-toned female architect and expert weaver that leaves behind her labour of love in the form of an intricate nest in the shape of a pouch, fastened together with whatever materials are in her breeding grounds. On many occasions, Nature Centre staff have come across a no-longer-in-use nest embroidered with shredded plastic or other cording — a testament to the resourcefulness of this bird.

If you don’t see its colour or evidence of its craftwork, you may hear its clear, flutelike melody and be reassured that with this member of the blackbird family now present, summer has definitely arrived.

Orioles have a sweet tooth so if you’d like to encourage them to spend time in an area near you, consider hammering a halved orange on a fence or post or putting some grape jelly in a dish on a bird feeder!