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Baltimore Oriole

Icterus galbula ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: ICTERIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The rich, whistling song of the Baltimore Oriole, echoing from treetops near homes and parks, is a sweet herald of spring in eastern North America. Look way up to find these singers: the male’s brilliant orange plumage blazes from high branches like a torch. Nearby, you might spot the female weaving her remarkable hanging nest from slender fibers. Fond of fruit and nectar as well as insects, Baltimore Orioles are easily lured to backyard feeders.

Be a Better Birder Tutorial 3
Optics Planet birding kit

Songs

The pure, liquid, whistling tones of the male Baltimore Oriole are a herald of springtime in eastern North America. His song consists of a short series of paired notes, repeated 2–7 times, lasting 1–2 seconds. The flutelike sound has a full, rich tone. The male sings to establish and defend a breeding territory, so you won’t hear the full song on the wintering grounds. The female Baltimore Oriole also sings. Her shorter songs may be communications with her mate. Occasionally, mated pairs may sing a duet.

Calls

Both male and female Baltimore Orioles give a staccato chatter during aggressive encounters, such as when trying to drive an intruder out of their nesting area. The chatter call may be heard at any time of day and year. It alerts other orioles nearby and can attract them to help drive away the threat. Both male and female Baltimore Orioles also give a sharp, repetitive chuck as an alarm call. Neighboring orioles of various species respond to each others’ chuck calls. Female Baltimore Orioles give a special, aggressive scream call when defending their nests.

Other Sounds

During breeding season, mature males sometimes make a flutter-drum sound to each other by beating their wings loudly in flight.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Baltimore Orioles seek out ripe fruit. Cut oranges in half and hang them from trees to invite orioles into your yard. Special oriole feeders filled with sugar water supplement the flower nectar that Baltimore Orioles gather. You can even put out small amounts of jelly to attract these nectar-eaters (just don't put out so much that it risks soiling their feathers). Planting bright fruits and nectar-bearing flowers, such as raspberries, crab apples, and trumpet vines, can attract Baltimore Orioles year after year.

Find This Bird

Aim your eyes high when looking for Baltimore Orioles. They’re most often seen perched at the tops of trees or flitting through the upper foliage in search of insects. Listen for their distinctive chatter, which is unlike the call of any other bird where orioles occur. Noisy nestlings may alert you to a nest site high off the ground.