Signs of Spring EverywhereSigns of Spring Everywhere
Today's News Fall's Journey South Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North

Oriole Migration Underway

It's time to watch for orioles! Bullock's Orioles have been turning up in the Southwest and Baltimore Orioles have also been reported in some states. Which orioles are you watching for?

Female Bullock's Oriole
Photo Chan Robbins,
Patuxent Bird Identification Info Center
Male Baltimore Oriole
Photo Provincial Museum of Alberta

Some Orioles Still in the Tropics
Even though by late April some Baltimore Orioles return north, many are still hanging out in their wintering grounds in Central America. Journey North science writer Laura Erickson once spent the first two weeks of April in Costa Rica. The first week she spotted dozens of Baltimore Orioles, and they were about half males and half females. By the second week they were a little less common, and almost all of them were females. She found one group of 12, including males and females, perched on wires above a sugar cane field, many small groups visiting feeders to eat bananas, and some flocks feeding on insects and fruits in forests and open areas. Baltimore Orioles seem to be very adaptable in Costa Rica, and can accept a wide variety of habitats. Do you know the difference between an oriole call note and song? Do orioles hang out alone or in groups? To learn this and more about orioles and life on their wintering grounds, be sure to see:

Night Flight
Although Laura witnessed many behaviors, one thing she didn't see was any Baltimore Orioles migrating. That's because Baltimore Orioles often take their actual migration flights at nighttime. By day they feed and hang out in small flocks, sometimes moseying toward the north as they move from feeder to feeder or tree to tree, but not covering big distances until night. How do night migrants find their way? They have a few different systems, but most rely heavily on stars to find their way. Read more here:

Get Ready for Your Orioles!

If orioles settle into your neighborhood, providing quality nesting materials is a good way to ensure that they'll successfully reproduce—maybe even in your own backyard! Dog fur is a great natural fiber that is very useful when orioles nest. Journey North contributor Cathy Gagliardi gives some more suggestions: "Orange halves will attract them; however, grape jelly will keep them around. Offer them 6 inch strips of yarn, even human hair, to use for nesting materials. They also love the "hair" from milkweed, so save your supply from last fall, when milkweed sheds. Mealworms are another delight, as orioles need protein too."

For more ideas of ways you can make your backyard orioles' lives easier, see

Orioles Round the Bases
It's April and time for baseball season openers. Have you noticed that the logo of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team was updated to look more like the real bird? Did you know that they hand out baseball cards with orioles on them at their ballpark? They show orioles on their scoreboard too. The team also promotes International Migratory Bird Day. Go Orioles!

Try This! Journaling Questions

  • Why do most orioles migrate by night? Think about the advangates and disadvantages of migrating during each time of day. Make a 4-column chart to organize your thoughts. When you are done, compare your thoughts with ours.
Night Advantages Night Disdvantages Day Advantages Day Disadvantages
  • Each spring, roughly a billion birds migrate northward across the Gulf of Mexico, en route to breeding habitats from their wintering quarters in the tropics. Imagine being a bird, flying over hundreds of miles of water without food or any place to rest. People working on oil platforms on the Gulf of Mexico don't have to imagine it. They've had the experience. Read one observer's description. Then journal about the most surprising thing you learned about the River of Birds.

Copyright 2004 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to
our feedback form

Today's News

Fall's Journey South

Report Your Sightings

How to Use Journey North

Search Journey North