The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Baltimore Bird

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BALTIMORE BIRD, or Baltimore Oriole (yphantes Baltimore, Vieill.), a bird belonging to the family of sturnidæ (starlings), and peculiar to the American continent, which it inhabits from Canada to Brazil. It is the most beautiful of our summer visitors, and is universally admired, both for the richness of its plumage and the sweetness of its song. It is also called “golden robin,” “hang bird,” and “fire bird.”

AmCyc Baltimore Bird.jpg

Baltimore Oriole.

The adult male has the head, neck all round, fore part of the back, wings, and tail, black; quills, excepting the first, margined with white; the whole under parts, the lesser wing coverts, and the posterior part of the back, bright orange, tinged with vermilion on the neck and breast; the tips of the two middle tail feathers, and the ends of the others, of a dull orange; bill and feet, light blue; iris, orange; length, 7¾ inches; extent of wings, 12 inches. This is the plumage of the third year, before which the colors are less bright, and more or less mixed with olive, brown, and white. The female is half an inch shorter, with the head, neck, and fore part of the back brownish black, mixed with dull yellow; hind part of the back light brownish yellow, brightest on the rump; lower parts duller than in the male. The orioles enter Louisiana, probably from Mexico, in early spring, and gradually make their way north, to return in autumn. Their motions are very lively and graceful. They are often seen clinging by the feet in search of insects, which form their principal food in the spring. Their song consists of from four to ten loud, full, and mellow notes, very agreeable to the ear. The nest is placed at the bottom of a very skilfully constructed network of strings and fibres, suspended, like a pouch, from the end of a branch, and shaded by overhanging loaves. The eggs are from four to six in number, about an inch long, of a pale brown color, spotted, dotted, and lined with dark brown. The period of incubation is 14 days. In Louisiana two broods are reared in a season. During migration their flight is high and straight, and mostly during the day. (See Oriole.)