This little fellow appeared in my yard again this week flitting from tree to tree in the bright morning sunshine. I have seen a pair of Spot-Breasted Orioles flashing their tangerine heads and paler kumquat hued rumps from high atop neighborhood trees all summer. Usually, I am alerted to their presence by the female’s lilting call. More recently, I have seen one of the birds with a darker, duller colored fledgling who busily flapped its wings and noisily demanded food from its parent. I would show you the little scamp, but I haven’t managed a decent capture.
One of the thirty or more species of New World Oriole, the Spot-breasted Oriole arrived in Florida from Mexico and Central America in 1949. Since then, it has spread throughout South Florida, where it delights residents with its striking flame orange brilliance and contrasting black face, bib, wings, and tail. Specks of ebony dot the sides of its upper breast.
In addition to tangelo and midnight feathers this little nectar, berry, and insect loving bird has a blue and black lower mandible and blue legs to match. They’re quite a tropical eye catcher.
The saga of my orange fascination would be incomplete without mention or our Carambola tree. Also known as Star Fruit, our prolific tree has borne an amazing crop of waxy orange fruit. Hanging like ornaments on a Christmas tree, these succulent star-shaped orbs beckon bird, squirrel, and human-kind alike.
Just this morning my husband risked life and limb atop a jittery ladder while plucking sky-high Carambola with his long-poled fruit picker. We filled a good sized bucket with the peachy-orange treats. Sliced crosswise, the pieces form a perfect five-pointed star, a perfect addition to any fruit salad or punch. With a flavor similar to a mixture of orange, papaya, and grapefruit, we like to add them to smoothies or sprinkle chopped pieces over ice cream. We value them not only for their taste, but also their nutritional value. They abound in antioxidants and vitamin C while being low in sodium, acid, and sugar.
Today, I’ll slice several to freeze for later use. Some, I like to coat with turbinado sugar and others I’ll leave plain. I freeze them on a cookie sheet first, then pack them flat in rows before vacuum sealing them with my Food Saver. The remainder will be juiced before freezing. Carambola are also a sweet-tart addition to marmalade.
Those little pink blossoms smell absolutely ambrosial. In full blossom, I find the air around the tree intoxicating. As you can tell, I revel in the richness of this orange fascination.