How did the Baltimore Oriole get named for a city in Maryland? It didn’t. England’s Lord Baltimore was one of the early benefactors of the Maryland colony. The colors of his heraldic crest were orange and black. Upon seeing the flashy New World Oriole, settlers decided to curry favor by naming it in Lord Baltimore’s honor.
The stately origin of the name is fitting, because millions of people love it when this bird graces their backyards. Just follow a few easy steps and it’ll hold court in yours, too. First, remember that Baltimore Orioles are sweet-tooths. They love fruit and nectar. (Oddly, the darker colored the fruit, the better. Baltimore Orioles will pass up green grapes that are fully ripened for darker varieties.) Your best bet: a feeder that holds nectar inside, jelly on top and is crowned with a freshly halved orange. You can also use a fruit hanger adorned with dark, ripe grapes and/ or oranges. Or simply use a hanging cup filled with grape jelly. (Please don’t use a jelly jar feeder. Orioles with foul their feathers with sticky goo when they place their heads inside it.)
Whichever you choose, make sure your Oriole feeder is out by May 1st. Males will arrive first from their wintering range in Central America. They’ll be on the lookout to claim good territories. Having your feeder ready will act like a “welcome” sign. When the females arrive two weeks later, the fellas will attract them to their space (i.e. your yard.) Also, Baltimore Orioles only defend a remarkably small area around their nests, meaning you have a good shot at multiple breeding pairs laying claim to your feeder.
When you’re out and about, look for this bird and its hanging bag-like nest on open (not dense) woods, along forest edges, in small tree groves and near riverbanks. And when you do see one, please be sure to give it a regal bow.