Baltimore Oriole

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Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Photo by: 
Melanie McKellar

I have always thought of the Baltimore Oriole as a bird of surprising contrast. The male's beautiful colors suggest a relationship with other beautiful birds such as warblers or tanagers. If you look past the colors and key in on the body shape and especially the bill, you will see why it is a member of the blackbird family. I guess the first thing to come to my mind about Baltimore orioles (after baseball) is large cottonwood trees. Though they are not confined to cottonwoods, it seems that where you find one, the other will be close. Another point of contrast for these birds is that while they occur in great numbers in wet areas, I frequently find them nesting in very open dry areas with only one or two trees in sight. The sock-like nest of the Baltimore oriole is another of this birds "claim to fame". It is a master piece of construction and they will often use pieces of string left out for them. They can most easily be found in the winter months after the trees have lost their leaves. A fairly new "feeder" bird, orioles can be tempted to your feeder station by offering nectar, oranges and/or grape jelly. It is most common to first bring them in with an orange colored nectar feeder then let them decide which of the three offerings is their favorite. Don't be surprised to see them drinking from your hummingbird feeder or vice versa. Remember, they are a bird of contrast.

By Mark McKellar

SPRING 2003