Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Baltimore Oriole

These gorgeous Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) have been in our yard since the first of May. At first it was only the male we noticed at the feeders, about a week later the female began coming around.
I put several liquid feeders out with oriole food in them, but they seem to prefer the orange halves and apple jelly as you can see from the photos. I normally put out grape jelly for them, but I was out and decided to try apple instead. They seem to love it. In fact when the dish is empty they sit in the top of the tree and scold me. After refilling it, they will fly directly to it.
Orioles are one of the most vibrantly colored birds in the avian world. They brighten up any landscape and I look forward to their return each spring. Birders all over the country eagerly await their return during spring migration and for good reason. Their bright orange and black plumage is stunning, their song is cheerful and beautiful to listen to.
These birds were given the name of Baltimore Oriole in honor of Lord Baltimore, as their coloring resembled the Coat-Of-Arms of his lordship. The Major league baseball team the Baltimore Orioles were named after this bird and this bird is also the State bird of Maryland.
This species will be found throughout Eastern North America. while there are several orioles, the Baltimore Oriole is the only one with an entirely black head. This species will breed with Bullock's Oriole where their numbers overlap. This earns the offspring the name of Northern Oriole and they are fertile hybrids, able to breed. After building a "cup-like" nest in a thicket hanging from a high branch on a tree, the female will incubate 3 to 5 grayish, or bluish-white eggs. Both males and females will feed the young, and they will be ready to leave the nest and fly for the first time in about 15 days. In the wild these beauties will feed on insects, caterpillars, berries, blossoms, and fruit. They readily come to backyard feeders and are often seen feeding from hummingbird feeders. They seem to have a sweet tooth. Before these gorgeous birds leave the area and head south try putting out assorted jellies, oriole food, orange or grapefruit halves. Provide plenty of fresh water and you most assuredly will have orioles brighten your landscape as well. In the late summer or early fall they will begin their fall migration and fly to Mexico, Central American and South America. Returning again to our area in May.


  1. When should I put out oriole feeders in central Missouri?

    1. I would suggest putting them out sometime around the 3rd week of April. I live in the NW part of the state about an hour north of KC and I usually put mine out the first of May.

  2. I had a few a couple of years ago but last year not one so i put out the oranges and the liquid hope I have better luck I live down by the lake of the Ozarks could I be doing something wrong the first I didn't have any thing out

  3. I had several Orioles for about a week and a half starting the last few days in April. They preferred the grape jelly over the oranges and nectar. I went through about 6 32 ounce jars of jelly. I saw one Oriole this morning and have not seen any more today. I think they are gone because I still have their food out. I live in Warrenton which is about 60 miles west of St. Louis and 60 miles east of Columbia. I've never seen any Orioles during the summer, only in spring for a short time. I guess they just pass through on the way to the north eastern states.

  4. I just had a male Baltimore Oriole visit my feeders this morning. I sliced a couple of oranges in half and placed them out on the feeder post for him. He's stunning. I hope he stays

  5. I live just east of Kansas City, MO. I was so excited when I had half a dozen Orioles visiting my feeders for the past 2 weeks. However, I have not seen any today or yesterday. :( I fear that they, too, may have just been passing through and did not choose to stay and nest. I hope that isn't true. I will continue to stock my feeder with oranges & jelly (the purple finches & woodpeckers will be happy). Hopefully there will be more orioles who stop by to visit.

  6. I live in South central Missouri. I had orioles for several days straight the end of April, but haven't seen any since. I'm holding out hope that they are busy nesting and will return to my feeder soon. They are such a beautiful bird! I look forward to them and my Indigo Buntings every year!

  7. I couldn't get orioles until I put out the grape jelly in middle of May and I believe the scouts found it - have had orioles off and on all summer. First I would see them every day and then I believe they may of been nesting and only would see every several days. The last couple of weeks I have seen them daily until about three days ago and have not seen any since. Does this sound like their usual habit? And should I leave the feeders up for a few more weeks? I live in Central Mo.