Locating Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore orioles breed throughout North America, east of the Rockies. Orioles winter from Florida to Jamaica, and from southern Mexico to northern South America.
Northern migration begins in February. Baltimore orioles generally arrive in Massachusetts during the first week of May.
The preferred breeding habitat for Baltimore orioles is open deciduous woods with edges, including suburban and urban sites. For nesting, the birds prefer tall elms, sycamores, cottonwoods, and maples.
The birds depart Massachusetts in early August (immature birds in late August-September) and arrive on wintering grounds from late August to mid-October.
After the Fall
A great time to find oriole nests you missed during the breeding season is to wait until just after the leaves are off the trees and then explore likely habitats. Later in the season nests are often blown down by successive storms, but they are often quite conspicuous in November and December.
Where do Massachusetts Orioles go in the winter?
Baltimore orioles as a whole spend the winter anywhere from Mexico to Colombia. Discovering where Massachusetts orioles spend the winter, however, is a much knottier problem, requiring the tracking of individual birds from nesting grounds to winter quarters.
To do this, we depend on the efforts of hundreds of bird banders to capture their subjects in mists nets and attach lightweight aluminum rings to their legs.
Quite a lot of birds have been banded in Massachusetts. According to Kathy Klimkiewicz of the Bird Banding Laboratory at the USGS Wildlife Research Center in Patuxent, Maryland, of the hundreds (thousands?) of orioles banded in Massachusetts since the 1920's, only 69 were ever recaptured and the great majority of these were re-netted back in Massachusetts, mostly at the same banding station where they were first trapped.