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What is a Baltimore Oriole?

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  • Written By: A.E. Jaquith
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A Baltimore Oriole, not to be confused with the American baseball team, is a type of blackbird that is native to North America. The bird can be easily identified by its distinctive coloration and unique call. It's a favorite among bird watchers and feeders alike.

The Baltimore Oriole is about 7 inches (17.8 cm) from beak to tail feather, with a wingspan of up to 12 inches (30 cm). The oriole weighs, on average, about 1.2 ounces (35g). Its call is a series of fast and slow, rich whistles, with the occasional harsh note.

Perhaps one of the easiest North American birds to identify, the male Baltimore Oriole's body is a rich orange color, with a solid black head. Females have a light brown body, with a burnt orange underbelly. The wings are primarily black, with white edges on the flight feathers. The bird's tail feathers, on the other hand, are also mostly orange, with a little black in the middle.

The Baltimore Oriole is found on the eastern half of North America. The birds prefer to inhabit deciduous forests, where they build their nests. Like many North American songbirds, the Baltimore Oriole migrates south for the winter and can range as far south as Central America during the winter migration.

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The mating season of the Baltimore Oriole begins in early April. Males commonly arrive at the mating grounds several days before the females, and use this extra time to begin staking out a territory. Once the females arrive, the males begin singing, and continue to sing almost non-stop until they find a suitable mate.

After a pair of Baltimore Orioles mate, the female begins to build the nest almost immediately. The nest of the bird resembles a small, tightly knit pouch that hangs underneath a tree branch anywhere from 5 to 100 feet (1.5 to 30.5 meters) above the ground. The nest is made from a mixture of plant fibers, hair, and bark, with common insulation consisting of hair, wool, and grasses. Once the nest is complete, the female will generally lay four to five eggs, which will hatch after about two weeks.

The Baltimore Oriole is an omnivorous bird that feeds primarily on insects, berries, and flower nectar. Orioles also love hummingbird food, but many brands of oriole specific food and feeders are available for purchase. The bird is also fond of fruit and jelly, which are commonly used by bird watchers to attract them.

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