Fun Facts About Orioles
- Orioles are insect and fruit eaters. They usually stay hidden in the trees eating and singing their beautiful whistling notes. They can be drawn down from their perches with foods like orange slices, grape jelly, mealworms and nectar feeders.
- When not feeding on nectar, orioles seek out caterpillars, fruits, insects, and spiders.
- Unlike many insect eating birds, Baltimore Orioles will eat spiny or hairy caterpillars, including such pest species as fall webworms, tent caterpillars, and gypsy moths.
- Most male Baltimore Oriole songs vary enough from one another as to be unique to each individual. It is believed females can identify and locate their mate by its distinct song.
- The Oriole nest is an engineering masterpiece. They weave a hanging-basket nest with plant fibers, grasses, vine and tree bark and sometimes string or yarn placed out on the small twigs of a branch 6-45 feet in the air. This keeps them safe from most predators.
- It takes as many as 12 days for an Oriole to weave its nest. One Baltimore Oriole was observed spending 40 hours building a nest with about 10,000 stitches and the tying of thousands of knots, all with its beak.
- The female Baltimore Oriole builds her nest with little or no help from its mate. Only the female incubates and broods, both feed the young.
- While modern day Oriole nests are made primarily of plant fibers, Oriole nests collected in the late 1800s, before the age of the automobile, were made almost exclusively of horsehair.
- Orioles will lay 4-5 eggs anywhere from April to June. The young will fledge as late as 30 days from egg laying.
- Orioles are found across North America in the summer. Some species winter in the tropics and others in Mexico.
- Most Baltimore Orioles spend their winters in southern Mexico, Central America and the tropics, but some will stay in the southern states of the U.S., with a few reports as far north as New England.
- The Baltimore Oriole is a common inhabitant of suburban landscapes due to is preference for open settings that are bordered with mature trees.
- Oriole’s are a member of Icteridae family, meaning that their closest bird relatives include meadowlarks, blackbirds, bobolinks and grackles.
- The oriole gets its name from the Latin aureolus, which means golden.
- The oldest banded Baltimore Oriole recaptured in the wild had lived 11 years and 7 months.
One of North America’s most popular fruit-eating birds is the oriole. Of our nine species, the Baltimore is common and widespread in the east while the Bullock’s is common in the west.
Baltimore and Bullock’s Orioles were once considered the same species and called Northern Orioles. Though they do inter-breed in areas where their ranges overlap, genetic studies show them to be two distinct species. The Baltimore Oriole was named for George Calvert, Baron of Baltimore, whose livery stable was yellow and black. The Bullock’s Oriole was named after William Bullock and his son, for their ornithological work in Mexico in the early 1800s.
Oriole nests are woven with thousands of stitches and the tying of thousands of knots, all done solely with its beak. Orioles take as many as 15 days to weave their nests and the results are engineering masterpieces – woven hanging-basket nests made of plant fiber, grasses, vine and tree bark. Nests are hung on small branches six to 45 feet in the air, keeping them safe from predators. Female orioles do most of the nest building and are the only one to incubate and brood, while both parents feed the young which fledge about 30 days from egg laying.
You can help to supply them with additional nesting materials by providing natural fiber yarn, twine or string pieces in lengths of less than six inches.