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Baltimore Oriole

Icterus galbula

Length: 7 - 8 inches Wingspan: 11 - 12 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Black hood and back, with orange underparts, rump, and shoulder patch.  

Baltimore Oriole - Icterus galbulaThis bird was formerly considered to belong to the same species as the western Bullock's Oriole, under the combined name of "Northern Oriole".  South Dakota birds can be variously intermediate between the two species, as they interbreed where their ranges come into contact.  However, in general, Baltimore Orioles are found in the eastern part of South Dakota, while Bullock's Orioles are found in the western part. The species was originally named for Lord Baltimore, whose coat-of-arms had similar colors to the Baltimore Oriole.

Habitat:

Baltimore Orioles typically nest in deciduous trees, but they usually shun deep, unbroken forest and are instead found around more open woodlands, riparian areas, shelterbelts, and other areas adjacent to some open space. They are also very well adapted to a human presence and can often be found in residential areas and urban parks.

Diet:

Insects, berries, and nectar.  In summer, primarily insects.  Eats many berries and sometimes cultivated fruit 

Behavior:

Forages by moving through the foliage of trees and shrubs in search of insects.  Will also go take nectar from flowers. 

Nesting:

Mid-May through August in South Dakota.  The nest is a large hanging bag-shaped pouch of grasses, vines, string, bark strips, or other linear, thin material.  The female lays 4 or 5 eggs, with the female alone incubating them.  After the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the nestlings, who leave the nest after about 2 weeks.

Interactive eBird Map:

Click to access an interactive eBird map of Baltimore Oriole sightings

Song:

Baltimore Oriole males sing a beautiful, extremely melodic and musical song, consisting of a series of musical phrases that is often quite variable. When alarmed or defending a nest, they also have a harsher chattering call. Both males and females also have a variety of different call notes.

1Click here to hear the song of a Baltimore Oriole

2Click here to hear another song of a Baltimore Oriole

3Click here to hear the scolding chatters of a Baltimore Oriole

4Click here to hear shorter call notes of a Baltimore Oriole

Migration:

Neotropical migrant, although some may winter in the Southeastern U.S.  Generally migrates quite early in the fall.

Similar Species:

Bullock's Oriole in South Dakota.  Click here to see a comparison between the two. Elsewhere in parts of their normal range, could be confused with the Hooded Oriole or Altamira Oriole.

Bird Feeders:

Oranges, peanut butter and suet, sometimes sugar water/nectar.  Specialized "oriole feeders" are sold which help birders offer fruit, jelly, or nectar to oriole species.

Conservation Status:

Baltimore Orioles are found across a very broad geographic area, and are common in many parts of that range. Their overall populations also appear to be relatively stable, based on systematic surveys like the Breeding Bird Survey. The IUCN lists the Baltimore Oriole as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information:

1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Baltimore Oriole

2) Audubon's Field Guide - Baltimore Oriole

3) WhatBird - Baltimore Oriole

Photo Information:

May 20th, 2004 -- Home in Brandon -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos:

Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Baltimore Oriole photos.

Audio File Credits:

1Jim Berry. Recorded in Chautauqua County, New York on May 10th, 2015. Original recording and information from xeno-canto.

2David Darrell-Lambert. Recorded in Essex County, Ontario on May 13th, 2019. Original recording and information from xeno-canto.

3Eric Defonso. Recorded in Logan County, Colorado on June 1st, 2016. Original recording and information from xeno-canto.

4Dan Lane. Recorded in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana on April 20th, 2014. Original recording and information from xeno-canto.

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Baltimore Oriole - Species Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant and Summer breeder in the eastern part of the state.  Uncommon in the western part of the state.

Additional Baltimore Oriole Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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