Baltimore Oriole

(Icterus galbula)

The Baltimore Oriole.

What do you enjoy most about this bird? Is it the tropical bright fiery orange color, or the familiar high pitched song?

If you are like me, you probably hear them before you see them. Yes, there is no mistaking the song of this species of oriole.

You didn't get your feeders out on a timely fashion, you may be like most people who will stop what they are doing to get oranges, jelly or feeders out for their beloved orioles.

After all, we don't want them to go elsewhere to feed.


Baltimore orioles are 7 to 8 and 1/2 inches.

Male orioles are flame orange or yellow with a black hood that extends to the back. The tail and wings are black with white wing bars. The female and young are Olive-brown above, and burnt orange below. Some females will have a black hood but it is not as pronounced as the male.

From Mexico to northern South America, where Baltimore orioles spend most of the year. Here they inhabit lush, tropical forests and feed on nectar, pollen, fruit, and insects.

Male Baltimore Oriole

By April, most orioles have begun the journey north to their breeding grounds in North America, which span most of the eastern United States and into southern Canada. Here they eschew the dense forests that so many other migratory birds favor, instead preferring open forests such as those along rivers and even in city parks.

Habitat and Range:

Orioles prefer open woods, shade trees orchards, parks, and gardens with shade trees. They can be found across the Eastern US and Canada and winter in Florida, the Gulf Coast and Central and South America.

Mating habits:

The mating season begins in late April to early May. The male orioles arrive 2 or 3 days before the females and begins claiming their territories.

Their singing is almost constant until they mate with a female.

Generally, any singing late in the season is from unmated or immature birds. Once the birds have found a mate they defend their territory and begin nesting.

Nesting Habits:

Considered by most as one of nature's greatest architect's, orioles make a deep pouch or sock like nest that is bound at the top to branches. It is made of twigs, bark fibers, string, grasses, and other materials. The nest is lined with moss, plant down, or fine grasses.

Like many other birds, the female Baltimore Oriole is the primary nest builder. Making a hanging nest made from plant fibers and suspended from a branch 6 to 90 feet above ground.

Bird watchers will find the best viewing of these nest is when the leaves are off the trees. You'll see them at the end of branches high in shade trees.

The preferred habitat of Orioles is in open woodlands of deciduous trees near parks, gardens, and in suburban settings.

They tend to favor large oaks and sycamore trees and cottonwood. However they will nest in most suitable locations.

Baltimore Oriole Nest

In this tightly woven hanging nest, the female oriole lays 3 to 6 pale blue with dark marks eggs.

Incubation of the eggs last 12 to 14 days and the young birds will leave the nest in 12 to 14 days after hatching.

While Orioles will return to the same territory, it is unlikely that they will use the same nest.

The female will incubate 3 to 5 eggs. The eggs are smooth and glossy. Color is grayish or bluish-white or with a purple tint. They can be marked with black or blackish-purple, usually around the large end.

The young are fed by both parents, and can fly in around two weeks.

Female Baltimore Oriole

Feeding Habits:

The Baltimore Oriole birds diet consist of insects, fruits, and flower nectar.

Natural foods are caterpillars, other insects, blossoms, fruit, and berries.

You can attract this bird to your backyard by setting out orange halves or grape jelly on a Fruit Feeder in early spring, or by using a sugar water mixture. 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Boil sugar water mixture and let cool.

Often feeding action stops at your offerings while they search out protein (insects) to feed a hungry. growing brood.

You may have success with oranges or grape jelly, so try both to see what works for you.

Peanut butter and suet can also attract these beauties to your yard.

Male Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore orioles will visit birdbaths to bathe, and drink.

By September, they are headed back to their wintering grounds south of the border.

Cool Fact:

Will hybridize with Bullock's Oriole in the Central Plains. This caused some confusion and there for a period of time, Bullock's and Baltimore were named one species, The Northern Oriole. They have since been given separate species status once again.

Bullock's Orioles

Orchard Orioles

Baltimore Orioles and other Common Bird Profiles

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