If you’ve ever seen a Baltimore Oriole, you have witnessed some of natures most profound beauty. With their vibrant orange and black colors, and their distinctive sound, they are almost impossible to mistake. Once they begin showing up in your yard, they may very well become one of your favorite birds.
Baltimore Orioles are members of the Blackbird family, and a sub-species of the Northern Oriole. These beautiful birds are most commonly found in woodlands, parks, suburbs and in backyards. They are one of the last birds to arrive in the Spring here in the Northeast, typically arriving in May, and the first to leave in the Fall, heading to warmer climates as early as September. Orioles migrate to Mexico, Central America and South America.
Baltimore Orioles measure about 7-8 inches (18-20 cm). Males are a brilliant orange with a black head and back. They have an orange tail with black stripes and black wings with white bars. Females are a pale orange, with a gray-brown head and wings. Both males and females have a gray bill with black eyes.
Orioles build their nests in the outermost branches of tall shade trees. The nest is made of plant fibers and animal hair and is lined with fine grasses. The pouch-like nest hangs from the end of a branch high up in the tree and resembles a little purse. Orioles have 1 brood per year, laying 4-5 bluish eggs with brown markings. The female is in charge of incubating the eggs, which hatch after about 12-14 days. Both parents feed the babies and the fledglings leave the nest after 12-14 days. Baltimore Orioles will return to the same area year after year and will even bring their young to backyard feeders.
Orioles eat insects, spiders, caterpillars, and fruit. You can easily entice these beautiful songbirds to your feeders simply by serving oranges and grape jelly. You can purchase a special Oriole feeder as well and fill it with sugar water, but I’ve found that the grape jelly works the best. I simply place 2 orange halves on the ends of a double shepherds hook (cut little holes in the ends of the orange first to make attaching it easier). You don’t need anything fancy for the jelly either. I just took an old metal coat hanger, cut the end off, and twisted it around the pole making a circular piece to hold a small, shallow bowl. Put a spoonful of jelly in it and you’re good to go. There are fancier jelly feeders available, but this is quick, easy and inexpensive and the birds don’t seem to mind at all. Be warned though, squirrels like the jelly too, and will lick the bowl clean in no time. I don’t mind sharing with the squirrels though because I’m in such awe every time I see these birds. I have already put out the oranges and jelly, just in case we get any early arrivals. We found that Catbirds and Robins like the jelly too.
The Orioles have a very distinctive sound and song. I’m not good at describing it, but watch the video below and you may find that you’ve already heard these gorgeous birds, but just didn’t know what you were hearing. Our Orioles make the chattering sound as they arrive, just before they grab a bite to eat.
I hope you found this information helpful, and with a little grape jelly and some oranges, hopefully you too will see Baltimore Orioles in your backyard this summer. If you are enjoying these articles, pictures and videos, please sign up for my blog so that you don’t miss any of them. Please hit the share buttons and let your family and friends know about them too. Leave a comment below and let me know where you’re from, what birds your’re currently seeing in your yard and what your favorite bird is. I’d love to hear from you. Happy Birding!