Back to the BirdIndex
Baltimore Oriole
Icterus galbula
Anatomy of a Bird

With its brilliant orange and black plumage, the Baltimore Oriole's arrival is eagerly awaited by birders each spring migration. Its preference for open areas with tall trees has made it a common inhabitant of parks and suburban areas.

Range Map My Photos Of This Bird
2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Cool Facts Taxonomic Hierarchy Illustration
  • The Baltimore Oriole hybridizes extensively with the Bullock's Oriole where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains. The two species were considered the same for a while and called the Northern Oriole, but recently, they were separated again. Molecular studies of the oriole genus indicate that the two species are not very closely related.
  • The "orioles" of the Americas were named after similarly-appearing birds in the Old World. The American orioles are not closely related to the true orioles in the family Oriolidae. They are more closely related to blackbirds and meadowlarks. Both New and Old world orioles are brightly colored with red, yellow, and black; have long tails and long pointed bills; build hanging, woven nests; and prefer tall trees around open areas.
  • Young male Baltimore Orioles do not achieve adult plumage until the fall of their second year. But some first-year males with female-like plumage succeed in attracting a mate and nest successfully.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Icterus
Species: Icterus galbula
Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley




Adult Description

  • Medium-sized songbird.
  • Male brilliant orange with black head

Male Description

Head, throat, mantle, wings, and tail black. Underparts, shoulders, tip and edges of tail, and rump orange to yellow orange. May be deeper orange on chest. Single white wingbar; orange shoulder makes a second wingbar. Bill pointed and silvery.

Female Description

Variable in appearance. May be similar to male, but head more dark brownish olive than black, and body paler orange. Usually face, throat, and underparts orange. Tail brownish olive, without black. White in shoulder gives it two white wingbars.

Immature Description

Immature similar to female, but paler and without black on head and back. May have gray belly. Young male looks like adult only in second fall.
Song: a series of rich whistled notes interspersed with rattles. Call: a chatter.

  • Breeding Location: Forest
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous, Solitary nester
  • Breeding Population: Fairly common to common
  • Egg Color: White or blue with dark marks on large end
  • Number of Eggs: 4
  • Incubation Days: 12 - 14
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Lined with grass and hair.
  • Migration: Migratory
  • Condition at Hatching: Helpless, with sparse down. Chicks fledge in 11-14 days.
Body Head Flight
  • Length Range: 18-21 cm (7-8.25 in)
  • Weight: 34 g (1.2 oz)
  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)
  • Color Primary: Orange, Black
  • Underparts: Orange-yellow
  • Upperparts: Black with orange-yellow rump.
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Solid
  • Bill Shape: Dagger, All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Dark brown.
  • Head Pattern: Plain
  • Crown Color: Black
  • Forehead Color: Black
  • Nape Color: Black
  • Throat Color: Black
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Swift direct flight with rapid wing beats.
  • Wingspan Range: 29-32 cm (11.25-12.5 in)
  • Wing Shape: Pointed-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Rounded Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Black and orange-yellow.
  • Under Tail: Black and orange-yellow.
  • Leg Color: Gray


Food Habitat
Gleans and probes in trees for insects. Caterpillars, fruits, insects, spiders, and nectar.
  • Breeds along woodland edges and open areas with scattered trees, especially deciduous trees.
  • Also in parks and wooded urban areas.
  • Winters in humid forests and second growth.
Other Names Similar Species Conservation Status
  • Oriole de Baltimore (French)
  • Bosero de Baltimore (Spanish)
  • Orchard Oriole male is smaller and deep chestnut, not orange; female is greenish yellow, not orange-yellow.
  • Bullock's Oriole male has large white patch on wings, orange on face, and a black eyeline for each eye.
  • Female Bullock's similar to paler Baltimore female and immature, but is grayer on back, more yellow than orange, has a whitish belly, and its yellow auriculars contrast with its crown. It also has a serrated-appearing upper wingbar, rather than a broad smooth one, and broad whitish edges to greater primary coverts on wing rather than just white tips.
Populations showing slight decrease across range, but populations probably stable. This species should be monitored closely. You can help scientists learn more about this species by participating in the Celebrate Urban Birds!
Video Sources Used To Construct This Page:


  • Lee, C.-T., and A. Birch. 1998. Field identification of female and immature Bullock's and Baltimore orioles. Birding 30: 282-295.

  • Rising, J. D., and N. J. Flood. 1998. Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula). In The Birds of North America, No. 384. (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

All photos 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.
Home Family Tree Photos Hiking Photos E-Books Bible E-mail