Thursday, May 17, 2007

Surprise!

Over these last 3 days of rain and gloom, I saw nothing at the feeders but big, argumentive black birds. Then all of a sudden, I looked out today and there was the most beautiful sight...a bright Baltimore Oriole.
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With its brilliant orange and black plumage, the Baltimore Oriole's arrival is eagerly awaited by birders each spring migration. Its preference for open areas with tall trees has made it a common inhabitant of parks and suburban areas.

Description

  • Medium-sized songbird.
  • Male brilliant orange with black head.
  • Size: 17-19 cm (7-7 in)
  • Wingspan: 23-30 cm (9-12 in)
  • Weight: 30-40 g (1.06-1.41 ounces)

Sex Differences

Male brightly colored with black hood, female duller and without black hood.

Sound

Song: a series of rich whistled notes interspersed with rattles. Call: a chatter.

Conservation Status

Populations showing slight decrease across range, but populations probably stable. This species should be monitored closely.

  • The Baltimore Oriole hybridizes extensively with the Bullock's Oriole where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains. The two species were considered the same for a while and called the Northern Oriole, but recently, they were separated again. Molecular studies of the oriole genus indicate that the two species are not very closely related.
  • The "orioles" of the Americas were named after similarly-appearing birds in the Old World. The American orioles are not closely related to the true orioles in the family Oriolidae. They are more closely related to blackbirds and meadowlarks. Both New and Old world orioles are brightly colored with red, yellow, and black; have long tails and long pointed bills; build hanging, woven nests; and prefer tall trees around open areas.
  • Young male Baltimore Orioles do not achieve adult plumage until the fall of their second year. But some first-year males with female-like plumage succeed in attracting a mate and nest successfully.

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Laura Lou
Michigan/Florida, United States
I am a retired Middle School Science teacher from Michigan spending 4 months each winter in Florida and learning about a whole new world.
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