BALTIMORE ORIOLE – (Icterus galbula)
The Baltimore oriole is part of the icterid family of blackbirds. The bird is approximately 20 cm (7 in.) long. The male is bright orange with a black head, and black wings with a white band. The bill is conical and black, and the tail has black feathers on top and orange ones on the underside. In the female the color orange is replaced by dull orange-yellow, and the black is replaced by grey. Juveniles look similar to the female depending on their development stages.
The word ‘icterus’ refers both to a yellow bird and the disease jaundice. The name ‘Baltimore’ refers to an English Lord of the 1700s who had the color orange on his coat of arms. The Baltimore oriole is the state bird of Maryland, and also inspired the name of a baseball team. The bird was named ‘oriole’ for its similarity to the Old World oriole, but it was later found that they are not related, however the name remained.
The nest of the Baltimore oriole is a remarkable structure of intricately woven material, suspended up in a deciduous tree. The bird is omnivorous, and when eating fruit it has a preference for dark and ripe ones. It can be attracted to feeders with the latter.
The Baltimore oriole breeds on PEI but is rare. The bird distribution area is mainly the eastern half of North America starting from southern Canada. It migrates to Mexico, Central America and the northernmost part of South America for the winter.