The state bird of Maryland and the mascot for the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, the Baltimore oriole is a very common bird in the Eastern United States. The population is estimated at about 12 million birds. It's known for its dramatic orange and black plumage, which makes the bird quite easy to identify. It's also easy to hear a Baltimore oriole. These birds are fantastic singers, a joy to have in a garden.
Over the summer, Baltimore orioles can be spotted in most states on the Atlantic coast and east of the Great Plains. With the first signs of fall, the birds head south to their wintering grounds in Florida, Costa Rica, and Central America. In the spring, they return to North America and can be spotted in Louisiana, Texas, and South Carolina. Baltimore orioles breed in the eastern part of North America, from Louisiana through central Canada. Their babies hatch in June and mature in July.
The oriole likes to make nests on large trees in open areas (they favor maples, sycamore, birches, cherry, and oaks). They like to live in ecotones such as the edges of forests near streams. In August, Baltimore orioles start migrating south, which makes it easier to spot them. Migration continues through September and by mid-October, most birds reach tropical regions.
Baltimore orioles can be attracted in gardens by grape jam, jelly, or orange halves. They feed on nectar from tubular flowers and insects such as caterpillars, beetles, larvae, and grasshoppers. In Maryland, you can spot Baltimore orioles at Audrey Carroll Audubon Sanctuary in Mt. Airy and Fred Archibald Wildlife Sanctuary in New Market. Both sanctuaries feature miles of trails through meadows, streams, and forests, the perfect habitat for the orioles.