One of North America’s most popular fruit-eating birds is the oriole. Of our nine species, the Baltimore is common and widespread in the east while the Bullock’s is common in the west.
Baltimore and Bullock’s Orioles were once considered the same species and called Northern Orioles. Though they do inter-breed in areas where their ranges overlap, genetic studies show them to be two distinct species. The Baltimore Oriole was named for George Calvert, Baron of Baltimore, whose livery stable was yellow and black. The Bullock’s Oriole was named after William Bullock and his son, for their ornithological work in Mexico in the early 1800s.
Oriole nests are woven with thousands of stitches and the tying of thousands of knots, all done solely with its beak. Orioles take as many as 15 days to weave their nests and the results are engineering masterpieces – woven hanging-basket nests made of plant fiber, grasses, vine and tree bark. Nests are hung on small branches six to 45 feet in the air, keeping them safe from predators. Female orioles do most of the nest building and are the only one to incubate and brood, while both parents feed the young which fledge about 30 days from egg laying.
You can help to supply them with additional nesting materials by providing natural fiber yarn, twine or string pieces in lengths of less than six inches.