7 Surprising Baltimore Oriole Facts

Learn surprising Baltimore oriole facts about one of spring's most gorgeous bird species, including why these birds aren't actually orioles at all!

Baltimore Oriole Facts: Baltimore Orioles vs Bullock’s Oriole

One interesting Baltimore oriole fact—this colorful bird Bullock’s oriole were considered the same species, called the Northern oriole, until the 1990s when genetic testing helped separate them.

Fruit Farmers Don’t Like Orioles

Many fruit growers think of orioles as pests, because, with their love of sweet treats, they can wipe out crops. Five fruits you’ll often see them munching are raspberries, crabapples, grapes, mulberries and cherries. Check out more backyard birds that eat berries.

Baltimore Orioles Are Not Actually Orioles

Another surprising Baltimore oriole fact—although given the common name “oriole,” American orioles are not actually a part of the oriole family, Oriolidae. True orioles are native to the Old World, and our American birds were named because of their resemblance to these European cousins. Orioles are in the blackbird family. Check out 10 birds that look like orioles.

Oriole Size and Wingspan

Baltimore orioles average about 8 inches long, similar in size to red-winged blackbirds, and a good 1 to 3 inches shorter than robins. Their wingspan is around 11-1/2 inches. The orchard oriole is smaller.

baltimore oriole in winterCourtesy Rich Gess
Female Baltimore oriole

Male and Females Look Different

Adult male Baltimore orioles are much more brightly colored than females. Look for distinctive markings to identify them. Juvenile male orioles do not grow their full adult plumage until their second fall. Here’s how to identify baby orioles and juvenile orioles.

Baltimore Orioles Don’t Eat Birdseed

If you want to attract these colorful fliers to your yard, don’t offer birdseed. Backyard birders should offer sugar water, oranges and grape jelly.

Where Do Orioles Go in Winter?

The Baltimore oriole winters in Florida and Central America. It migrates north starting in late winter, arriving in the southeast throughout April to begin mating and nesting. But some lately are staying put year-round, provided they can find enough food. Learn more about Baltimore oriole migration.

Common Backyard Birds

This species is widespread in the eastern states. You can find eight types of orioles in the United States, but only five are common. Check out more common backyard birds you should know.

Jill Staake
Jill Staake's lifelong love of nature turned into a career during the years she spent working with native Florida butterflies, caterpillars, and other wildlife at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Florida. During this time, she helped to maintain 30+ acres of gardens and backwoods, all carefully cultivated to support the more than 20 species of butterflies displayed indoors and out. She now writes for a variety of publications and sites on topics like gardening and birding, among others.