Maryland State Bird

Baltimore Oriole (icterid blackbird)

State Symbol: Maryland State Bird: Baltimore Oriole (icterid blackbird)

(Icterus galbula)

Adopted in 1947.

The Baltimore Oriole, (Icterus galbula,) is the official Maryland state bird (Chapter 54, Acts of 1947; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-302). Special provisions have been made for its protection. The Baltimore Oriole's (a small icterid blackbird) feathers are black and gold, the same colors as in the Calvert family shield. The Baltimore Oriole is a small icterid blackbird that commonly occurs in eastern North America as a migratory breeding bird.

At one time, this species and the Bullock's Oriole, (Icterus bullockii,) were considered to be a single species called the Northern Oriole.

 Maryland State Bird: Baltimore Oriole

State Symbol: Maryland State Bird: Baltimore Oriole (icterid blackbird)

The Baltimore Oriole is a small icterid blackbird that commonly occurs in eastern North America as a migratory breeding bird. This bird received its name from the fact that the male's colors resemble those on the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore.

The female oriole's feathers are brownish-olive and dull orange, but the male's plumage is black and golden orange not unlike colors in the Calvert shield. This similarity led to its early association with the name of the Maryland proprietor. In 1698, "Baltimore Birds" were among the "Beasts of Curiosity" ordered sent from Maryland to grace the royal gardens (Archives of Maryland 23:455-56). In 1894, Baltimore's major league baseball team was named after the bird.

Characteristics of the Baltimore Oriole

One of the most brilliantly colored songbirds in the east, flaming orange and black, sharing the heraldic colors of the coat of arms of 17th-century Lord Baltimore. Widespread east of the Great Plains, Baltimore Orioles are often very common in open woods and groves in summer. Their bag-shaped hanging nests, artfully woven of plant fibers, are familiar sights in the shade trees in towns. This bird was formerly considered to belong to the same species as the western Bullock's Oriole, under the combined name of Northern Oriole.

The Baltimore Oriole, (Icterus galbula,) is a small icterid blackbird which is on the average

  • Length: 6.5 inches
  • Sharply-pointed bill


  • Black head, back, wings and tail
  • Orange underparts, shoulder, and rump
  • Orange tips to outer tail feathers
  • White wing bar and edges
  • Immature male similar to female but brighter orange with variable amounts of black on head


  • Brownish-gray upperparts
  • Dull yellowish-orange breast and undertail coverts
  • Gray belly
  • Two wing bars

History of the Baltimore Oriole

Maryland State Bird: Baltimore Oriole (icterid blackbird)

Maryland made special provisions to protect the Baltimore Oriole in 1882 (Chapter 154, Acts of 1882). Since passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the Baltimore Oriole is protected by federal law covering all migratory bird species, and, since 1975, by the State's Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act (Chapter 27, Acts of 1975).

Despite its special status, since 1966 (and more rapidly after 1980) the number of Baltimore Orioles has been declining. The loss is attributed to destruction of breeding habitat and tropical winter habitat, and toxic pesticides ingested by the insects which constitute the Oriole's main diet.

In the late 1930s, Hoagy Carmichael composed the song, "Baltimore Oriole," lyrics by Paul Francis Webster.

Maryland Statutes

The law designating the Baltimore oriole as the official Maryland state bird is Section § 13-302 of the Maryland Statutes, State Government, Title 13 (EMBLEMS; COMMEMORATIVE DAYS; MANUAL) Subtitle 3 (ADDITIONAL EMBLEMS; DESIGNATIONS) Section 13-302.


§ 13-302.

The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) is the State bird.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Baltimore Oriole

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
    Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Aves - birds
Order: Passeriformes - perching birds
Family: Fringillidae - buntings, finches, grosbeaks, old world finches, sparrows
Genus: Icterus Brisson, 1760 - american orioles
Species: Icterus galbula (Linnaeus, 1758) - Bolsero de Baltimore, northern oriole

Official State Birds
US map : Birds & Flowers
State Bird:Bird selected (by the legislature) as an emblem of a State.