The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) is a small blackbird that commonly occurs in eastern and central North America as a migratory breeding bird. This bird received its name from the fact that the male’s colors resemble those on the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore. It measures 6.7–8.7 inches in length and spans 9.1–13 inches across the wings. They have a sturdy body, a longish tail, fairly long legs and a thick, pointed bill. The body weight averages 1.19 oz. Adults always have white bars on the wings. The adult male is orange on the underparts shoulder patch and rump, with some birds appearing a very deep flaming orange and others appearing yellowish-orange. All of the rest of the male’s plumage is black. The adult female is yellow-brown on the upper parts with darker wings, and dull orange-yellow on the breast and belly. The juvenile oriole is similar-looking to the female, with males taking until the fall of their second year to reach adult plumage.
Baltimore Orioles are often found high up in large, leafy deciduous trees, but don’t generally live in deep forests. The species has been found in summer and migration in open woodland, forest edge, and partially wooded wetlands or stands of trees along rivers. They are very adaptable and can breed in a variety of secondary habitats. In recent times, they are often found in orchards, farmland, urban parks and suburban landscapes as long as they retain woodlots. In Mexico, they winter in flowering canopy trees, often over shade coffee plantations.
They forage in trees and shrubs, also making short flights to catch insects. They acrobatically clamber, hover and hang among foliage as they comb high branches. They mainly eat insects, berries and nectar, and are often seen sipping at hummingbird feeders. Their favored prey is perhaps the Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth, which they typically eat in their larval stage. The larvae caterpillar are beaten against a branch until their protective hairs are skinned off before being eaten. Unlike American Robins and many other fruit-eating birds, Baltimore Orioles seem to prefer only ripe, dark-colored fruit. Orioles seek out the darkest mulberries, the reddest cherries, and the deepest-purple grapes, and will ignore green grapes and yellow cherries even if they are ripe. Baltimore Orioles sometimes use their bills in an unusual way, called “gaping”: they stab the closed bill into soft fruits, then open their mouths to cut a juicy swath from which they drink with their tongues. During spring and fall, nectar, fruit and other sugary foods are readily converted into fat, which supplies energy for migration.
Many people now attract Baltimore Orioles to their backyards with oriole feeders. Oriole feeders contain essentially the same food as hummingbird feeders, but are designed for orioles, and are orange instead of red and have larger perches.
Source: From Wikipedia, licensed under CC-BY-SA
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