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Maryland State Bird – Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

The Maryland state bird is the Baltimore Oriole – a bird with a rich, whistling song that’s a messenger of spring in eastern North America.

Maryland is a mid-Atlantic U.S. state whose terrain consists of forested mountains, sandy dunes, and rolling hills. The capital of the state is Annapolis. It’s a smaller state with a population of 6.165 million and ​​a 12,407 sq mile size.

If you would like to attract these birds to your yard, you’re in luck!

Baltimore Orioles look for ripe fruit. You can cut oranges in half and hang them from a feeder or trees to invite these birds to your yard. There are special bird feeders that were made specifically for Orioles. You fill them with sugar water, similar to hummingbird feeders, to supplement the flower nectar that these birds drink.

You can also put out small amounts of fruit jelly to attract Baltimore Orioles. However, if you do this, it’s vital that you don’t put out much because you risk soiling their feathers.

If you would like to go the more natural route, you can plant bright nectar-bearing flowers and fruit, such as crab apples, raspberries, and trumpet vines.

 

History

The Baltimore Oriole became the state bird of Maryland in 1947. In 1975, the Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act was passed to protect birds, including the Baltimore Oriole. However, despite these 2 legislative actions, the Baltimore Orioles’ survival has been threatened since the late 1980s.

Juvenile Baltimore Oriole

Juvenile Baltimore Oriole

In the 1600s, the Second Baron Baltimore, Cecil Calvert, moved to the colonies to run the Maryland colony. He brought his family’s coat of arms with him, which had the same colors as the Baltimore Oriole. Additionally, these colors now appear on Maryland’s state flag. Baltimore Orioles are native to the area and have been admired by state residents for hundreds of years. This bird is loved by many.

 

Facts about The Baltimore Oriole

  • Juvenile male Baltimore Orioles get their bright-orange adult plumage in their second year of life around fall. However, even first-year males with dull plumage are successful in attracting a mate. Additionally, females develop more orange with every molt. Because of this, some older females are almost as bright as males!
  • Baltimore Orioles will use their slim beaks to feed in a method called “gaping.” This method involves them stabbing their closed bill into soft fruits. They’ll then open their mouths to cut a line from which they drink the juice from with their brushy-tipped tongues.
  • Many people use oriole feeders to attract these birds to their yards. These feeders contain sugar water, the same food we feed hummingbirds, but are made for orioles. These feeders are usually orange and have bigger perches. Baltimore orioles are also fond of jelly and halved oranges. If orioles find a well-kept feeder, they will bring their young to it.
  • The oldest recorded Baltimore Oriole lived to be over 12 years old. It was unfortunately found after it was killed by a raptor in the state of Minnesota.

 

Identification of Maryland State Bird

Male Baltimore Oriole identification

Male Baltimore Oriole identification

Baltimore Orioles have sturdy bodies, long legs, thick-based, long bills, and thick necks. They’re thinner and smaller than an American Robin.

Adult male Baltimore Orioles have one white wing bar on each wing, a solid black head, and are flame-orange overall. Immature males and females have two strong white wing bars, grayish on the head and back, and are yellow-orange on the breast.

Baltimore Orioles are 6.7 to 7.5 inches (17 to 19 centimeters), weigh 1.1 to 1.4 ounces (30 to 40 grams), and have a wingspan of 9.1 to 11.8 inches (23 to 30 centimeters).

Baltimore Oriole Female

Female Baltimore Oriole identification

 

Call

Baltimore Orioles make a variety of sounds. First, males make whistling tones that are a sign of springtime in the eastern portions of North America. This song consists of a series of short paired notes that are repeated 2 to 7 times and last 1 to 2 seconds.

The male oriole will sing to establish and defend territory on the breeding grounds, so you won’t hear their full song on the wintering grounds. The female Baltimore Maryland State bird sings as well. Her shorter songs are theorized to be communications with her mate. Additioanlly, mated pairs will occasionally sing a duet.

Both female and male Baltimore Orioles give a sharp chatter during aggressive encounters. For example, this could be when a bird is trying to get an intruder to leave their nesting area. The chatter call they produce can be heard at any time of year and day.

It alerts other birds that may be nearby and attracts them to help drive away any threat. Both female and male Baltimore Orioles also give a repetitive, sharp chuck as an alarm call. Neighboring various oriole species will respond to these chuck calls.

Lastly, female Baltimore Orioles will make a unique, aggressive scream when defending their nests.

Baltimore Oriole

 

Behavior

Baltimore Orioles are efficient feeders.

They comb high tree branches for fruit, flowers, and insects. They’re also acrobatic birds; they can hang upside down and flutter in the air to increase their reach.

They’ve also been observed flying out from perches and snatching insects out of the air. Since these birds forage in the treetops, they’re usually seen instead of heard. However, males typically sing from visible posts at the tops of trees, where their bright orange breast easily captures your eye.

Both female and male Baltimore Orioles can be seen fluttering amongst leaves and will frequently visit well-kept bird feeders that are supplied with nectar or fruit.

Baltimore Orioles are not like other species of birds because a lot of other birds defend large feeding territories, but Baltimore Orioles don’t. Instead, they only defend the space near their nests. This is why we sometimes see oriole neighbors who feed close to each other.

When courting, the male oriole will make a display that involves hopping around the female, bowing forward, and spreading his wings to show off his orange back. A female who is interested responds to the male by fanning her tail, fluttering her wings, and producing a chattering call.

baltimore oriole

 

Often Asked Questions

What is the state bird of Maryland?

The state bird of Maryland is the Baltimore Oriole.

Why is the Baltimore Oriole the state bird of Maryland?

The Baltimore Oriole was chosen as the state bird of Maryland because its vibrant orange and black colors match the heraldic colors of the Calvert family, who were the founders of the Maryland colony. The Baltimore Oriole’s association with the state’s history and its beautiful appearance made it a fitting symbol for Maryland.

When did Maryland choose its state bird?

Maryland designated the Baltimore Oriole as its state bird in 1947.

What other states have the Baltimore Oriole as their state bird?

The Baltimore Oriole is not recognized as the state bird of any other states. It holds a special significance in Maryland, representing its heritage and natural beauty.

 

Read next: Birds of Maryland | Hawks in Maryland | Woodpeckers in Maryland

About the Author

Brianna Goulet

Brianna loves to get outdoors for everything creative and fun. She has a passion for birds and is a hobbyist wildlife photographer based in Central Florida. Her goal is to share everything you need to know about birds so you can get out there, explore, and identify confidently!

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