Discover Nature NotesMore posts

Tropical Visitor

Jun 25, 2018

See if you can find this colorful traveler in your neighborhood.

Look in the shade trees along your city street or behind your house.  You might notice the orange and black feathers of a northern oriole flashing among the leaves.  This tropical bird, sometimes called the Baltimore Oriole, spends the winter in Central America and migrates to the midwest each summer to breed.  

Orioles need to live where they can find a steady diet of insects and fruit. In the midwest, these foods are available only during the warmer months.  Oranges and grape jelly have successfully been used to attract orioles to backyards.  You can learn more on how to attract them in the video below.

During August, orioles migrate to tropical areas in countries such as Costa Rica and Panama.  There, closer to the equator, they can find the food they need to survive until they migrate north again in spring, to nest.

Material sourced from former MDC Ornithologist, Brad Jacobs.

Oh, the Oriole!

  • Finding an oriole's nest in summer isn't easy. Hidden in the upper branches of a tall maple or elm, the nest looks like a gray basket, woven of milkweed silk, plant fibers, and hair. 
  • Baltimore orioles nest throughout the eastern U.S. and into Canada, then migrate south for winter. Wintering habitat includes scattered trees and woodland borders from Mexico to Colombia and Venezuela.
  • Usually, you’ll hear the male oriole’s loud, flutelike whistle before you see the bird.
  • You may see the oriole listed in some field guides as the "northern oriole," because taxonomists had, for a time, considered the Baltimore oriole (of the eastern U.S.) and the very similar Bullock's oriole (of the west) as merely two "forms" or "races" of the same species, and grouped both together under the name "northern oriole.”

Discover more about the Baltimore oriole by visiting the MDC’s Field Guide

baltimore_oriole_male_11-16-13.jpg

Photo of male Baltimore oriole perched on branch
Baltimore Oriole Male
Male Baltimore oriole.

How to Attract Orioles to Your Yard

Learn how to attract orioles to your yard with this video from Purina Mills TV
Learn how to attract orioles to your yard with this video from Purina Mills TV

Baltimore Oriole 7 IN Song.mp3

Listen to the sounds of Baltimore Orioles from the Cornell Audio Library

northern_oriole.jpg

Baltimore oriole eating orange from a feeder
Baltimore Oriole
A Baltimore oriole drinks juice from an orange. These brilliant songbirds also eat nectar and insects.

Comments

"Finding an oriole's nest in summer isn't easy. Hidden in the upper branches of a tall maple or elm, the nest looks like a gray basket, woven of milkweed silk, plant fibers, and hair." I loved seeing orioles when I visited my family farm as a kid. Their color is simply amazing!

Recent Posts

Flathead Catfish

Fish Fathers

Jun 09, 2019

Father's Day is a popular time of year for family fishing. Check out two fish fathers who would qualify for "super dad" status when it comes to raising young fry. Learn their techniques and catch some fishing tips in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Hummingbird Hustle

Jun 02, 2019

Hummingbird Hustle: These pint-sized birds pack a lot of power and speed in their game. They can fly backwards, sideways and even upside down with wings beating more than 50 times per second. Hummingbirds also feature a rainbow of colors as they flit about seeking nectar from orange and red tubular flowers. Watch one in slow motion and learn how to attract them to your yard in this week's Discover Nature Note.

female belted kingfisher

The Bird that Fishes

May 26, 2019

With stout frame and a mohawk crest, this potent predator strikes with stealth. Its prey may not see it coming, but you might if you listen for its swooping call. Find out more about this wild fisher on Missouri waters in this week's Discover Nature Note.

Field Guide

Discovering nature from A-Z is one click away

Recipes

You had fun hunting, catching or gathering your quarry—now have more fun cooking and eating it.
Check out the recipes