With spring well underway, you may have noticed an abundance of new life budding, blooming and singing in your yard and neighborhood. Along with Tulips, Redbuds, and Lilacs, another true harbinger of springtime is the Baltimore Oriole bird. Easily identified by the blaze of orange flitting through the tops of trees and upper foliage, aim your gaze upward to spot Baltimore Orioles.
Did you know? Baltimore Orioles were named from their color resemblance to the coat of arms of England’s Baltimore family
The male Baltimore Oriole is fiery orange with a deep black head. The plumage of females is rather variable, featuring orange with overtones of browns and yellows. However, as the female ages, she is likely to become more orange. With young males not fully acquiring their prominent plumage till their second year, sexing these visitors may be difficult. It is possible to have several variations at the same time.
Baltimore Orioles are quite common in open deciduous forests, riverbanks, and forest edges. They have adapted well to human settlement and can often be found in parks, orchards, and in your backyard. Most often they are seen perched at the tops of trees in search of insects.
Baltimore Orioles weave a dangling, pendulous nest, mostly commonly in Elm, Maple, Oak, and Willow trees. Listen for possible noisy nestlings high off the ground to locate their nest site. While the female does all the brooding, both parents feed the chicks. The male teaches the fledglings where to find food, allowing the females to recuperate before migrating south. All depart before summer’s end to avoid the onset of cold weather.
You can make your garden and yard more appealing to Baltimore Orioles by offering trees for them to raise their young. Native trees are part of the natural food web and will support the insects that birds need to feed their young. Tulip Poplars, Autumn Blaze Red Maples, and Sugar Maples offer excellent nesting locations and food sources as well as brilliant fall color.
Did you know? Baltimore Orioles do not eat seed and will not visit a typical bird feeder. However they do love “sweets.”
When it comes to offering food to Baltimore Orioles, there are a lot of options! Aside from consuming insects, Baltimore Orioles will also consume fruit, particularly dark berries. To make your orange friends happier, your landscape can include mulberries, elderberries, serviceberries, blueberries, blackberries, and black raspberries. Nearly any dark berry will be loved. Offering mealworms will give parents additional food to feed their young.
Offering food is the best way to appreciate these brilliant birds. It will draw them in close. Flashes of orange and a chorus of chatters will materialize into these charismatic creatures. They most commonly will eat fruit, nectar, and insects.
Did you know? Offering nectar supports their need for high energy foods.
While Orioles sometimes manage to sip from hummingbird feeders, special Oriole feeders are designed to better accommodate their size. To make your own nectar use the same ratio of sugar to water (1:4) as you would for hummingbirds. Convenient pre-made nectar solutions are also available.
To save some expense, you can mix jelly with an equal amount of water. Most commonly, people offer dark grape jelly but other dark jams like elderberry or blueberry will be enjoyed. Grosbeaks, Tanagers, House Finches, and Woodpeckers may relish this tasty treat also.
Did you know? Orioles are attracted to the color orange!
Feeders composed from recycled plastics are made orange to get their attention. Halved oranges are a favorite food, as is jam or jelly.
Did you know? Two types of Orioles can be found in Michigan.
The Baltimore is our most common species. Orchard Orioles may also arrive, especially in the southern counties. These birds are smaller and cinnamon colored. Have fun seeing if you can attract both to your backyard this summer!