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Summary: Orioles are differentiated from other birds by their bright and colorful plumage and vocal talents. A good supply of food and a fresh, clean, birdbath draws the Oriole to your backyard.

Maryland's state bird is the oriole. So is their state baseball team, but that's an entirely different subject for another day. Today, we are talking about the birds that fly out of the stadium without the help of bats.

There are 30 species of orioles. The Baltimore oriole has black and orange feathers. Male orioles have black feathers on their heads, but females do not. Females also have paler feathers and are usually somewhat smaller than males. All orioles have long bills and are about seven to eight inches long.

Orioles enjoy building their nests in tall trees (especially willows and cottonwoods) in open fields or forests. They can also be found near lakes, streams, and parks. The nests of orioles are unique from other birds' nests because they usually dangle off of high branches. Orioles are monogamous and are rarely seen flying solo. They fly quickly and flap their wings at a rapid pace

The foods of choice for orioles are nectar, pollen, insects, spiders, nuts, and fruit. This is helpful to know if insects invade your award-winning garden.

The oriole is a songbird. It sings a loud and jarring tune. Males sing to attract mates. They may hop around from branch to branch to win over females. Some even bow politely. Male orioles are real Casanovas. Females sing a short but sweet song, and young orioles chirp for attention.

March is the earliest month that orioles will begin to lay their eggs. Eggs of orioles are brown, white, gray, and black in color. Female orioles lay about three to seven eggs at a time. Incubation of the eggs takes about two weeks. After the eggs hatch, adult orioles feed their young by regurgitating in their mouths. Apparently, the young orioles enjoy ABC food: Already Been Chewed.

Orioles usually have a lifespan of three to seven years. The oldest oriole reportedly lived for fourteen years. This age is extremely rare for these birds, especially those in the wild.

The flight of orioles ranges as far north as Canada and as far south as Louisiana and Texas in the spring and summer. Orioles migrate south to Mexico in the winter.

Because orioles eat insects for their main source of food, they can be beneficial to your gardens and plants by eating insects and grubs that could cause damage. If you notice that bugs are eating away your precious plants, you might want to build an oriole's nest to eliminate some of the insects. Here are instructions on how to do so.

  • Find a large, shady tree, such as a birch or willow. Pick a spot to build the nest that is relatively high up so that squirrels cannot get to it.
    Choose the materials to build the nest with. Some good items to find are string, grass, yarn, twigs, and thread. Long fibers of animal hair (such as horses) are also great materials to use.
  • Take the strands of material that you have gathered and bring them over to the tree. It is best to build the nest where two branches are close together.
  • Using a few strands at a time, loop them around one branch and over to the second branch. You want to make a circular or oval shape. For best results, weave the strands in and out and tie knots to secure the strands.
  • Keep this in mind while building the nest: It should be loose enough that it slightly dangles from the branches in order to attract the orioles. But it should be snug enough so that the eggs will not fall out of it!
    When you feel that the nest is big enough, you can begin to hollow it out. Use a tennis ball or other small object to round it out. Make the nest deep enough that up to seven one-inch eggs can fit inside.
  • Try placing some berries or other fruits on the nest to attract the orioles.

Once you have finished, sit back and watch the orioles come to visit. Your garden will thank you for it.

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