About Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Oriole © Kimberly King
Baltimore Oriole © Kimberly King

The Baltimore oriole derives its name from its song, which imitates the liquid song of the European, or golden oriole, or from the Latin aureolus meaning golden. The "Baltimore" comes from Sir George Calvert, First Baron of Baltimore (Maryland), whose coat-of-arms is orange and black.

Appearance

Baltimore orioles belong to the blackbird family (grackles, blackbirds, cowbirds), are approximately 7-8 inches long, and weigh in at 35 grams (about the weight of six quarters).

The adult male is brilliant orange on the body with a black head and wings and white bars.

Watch a short movie of an adult male Baltimore Oriole. (QuickTime 930 KB) ©The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York

Adult females are brown or scaly-black where the males are black, though older females may look like adult males. Immature birds are browner and duller yellow to orange.

Watch a short movie of an adult female Baltimore oriole. (QuickTime 930 KB) ©The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York

Song

The Baltimore oriole song is a rich, clear, loud whistle usually including short, two-note phrases. The tone is highly variable, though characteristic. Females sing too. You may also hear the chatter call in defense of territory.

Listen to a recording of the oriole's song. (QuickTime 930 KB) ©The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.

Listen to a recording to the oriole's chatter and song. (QuickTime 356 KB) ©The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.

Food

Orioles forage at high or mid-level in trees, eating mainly insects, spiders, fruits, and nectar.

Orioles will come to feeders! Their preferred treats are orange halves, grape jelly, and nectar feeders.