Size & Shape
Smaller and more slender than an American Robin, Baltimore Orioles are medium-sized, sturdy-bodied songbirds with thick necks and long legs. Look for their long, thick-based, pointed bills, a hallmark of the blackbird family they belong to.
Adult males are flame-orange and black, with a solid-black head and one white bar on their black wings. Females and immature males are yellow-orange on the breast, grayish on the head and back, with two bold white wing bars.
Baltimore Orioles are more often heard than seen as they feed high in trees, searching leaves and small branches for insects, flowers, and fruit. You may also spot them lower down, plucking fruit from vines and bushes or sipping from hummingbird feeders. Watch for the male’s slow, fluttering flights between tree tops and listen for their characteristic wink or chatter calls.
Look for Baltimore Orioles high in leafy deciduous trees, but not in deep forests: they’re found in open woodland, forest edge, orchards, and stands of trees along rivers, in parks, and in backyards.
Slender body shape with sharp, pointed billBright orange underparts with black headBlack and white wings with orange shoulders Black tail tipped with orangeCommon spring/summer resident in eastern and central U.S.
Bright orange with black headBold white markings on black wingsSharp silver/black bill
Slender body shape and long tailSharp, pointed billBright orange underneathDusky gray head and back
The distinctive shape and bright colors of orioles help set them apart from most other species. Orchard Orioles are noticeably smaller than Baltimore Orioles. Male Orchard Orioles are rich chestnut, never bright orange, and female Orchard never show any orange tones. Immature male Orchard Orioles have a solid black throat (unlike the partial hood of Baltimore) and yellowish-green underparts. Bullock’s Oriole occurs mostly west of the Baltimore Oriole's range, but the two species occasionally hybridize in the Great Plains. Male Bullock’s Orioles have orange faces, a black line through the eye, and a larger white patch in the wings. Females and immature males have much grayer underparts than Baltimore Orioles. Some people occasionally mistake American Robins for Baltimore Orioles, but robins are thrushes with shorter bills, rounder heads, solid-brown backs, and a more subdued shade of orange on the breast.
Baltimore Orioles seek out ripe fruit. Cut oranges in half and hang them from trees to invite orioles into your yard. Special oriole feeders filled with sugar water supplement the flower nectar that Baltimore Orioles gather. You can even put out small amounts of jelly to attract these nectar-eaters (just don't put out so much that it risks soiling their feathers). Planting bright fruits and nectar-bearing flowers, such as raspberries, crab apples, and trumpet vines, can attract Baltimore Orioles year after year.
Aim your eyes high when looking for Baltimore Orioles. They’re most often seen perched at the tops of trees or flitting through the upper foliage in search of insects. Listen for their distinctive chatter, which is unlike the call of any other bird where orioles occur. Noisy nestlings may alert you to a nest site high off the ground.
In central North America—including Kansas, Nebraska, Saskatchewan, and Alberta—the Baltimore Oriole’s range overlaps with its close relative the Bullock’s Oriole, and the two species breed with each other. Their hybrid offspring—brighter orange than a typical Bullock’s, but duller than a typical Baltimore—can confuse bird watchers.
Category › Baltimore Oriole