2 Types of Orioles Found in North Carolina! (2024)

What types of orioles can you find in North Carolina?

common orioles in north carolina

Few birds get me as excited as seeing Baltimore Orioles in my backyard each spring, either sipping grape jelly or feeding on orange halves. It’s no wonder these beautiful blackbirds (Yes, all orioles are part of the Icteridae family and considered blackbirds 🙂 ) draw so much attention and are a favorite amongst many people, both birders and non-birders alike.

Below are the 2 types of orioles that live in North Carolina!

Make sure to pay attention to the range maps below to see which orioles live near you! For each species, I have included a few photographs, along with their most common sounds, to help you identify any birds you are lucky enough to observe.

#1. Baltimore Oriole

species of orioles in north carolina

Nothing marks the return of spring quite like the whistling song of the Baltimore Oriole. Male birds, being a stunning combination of orange and black with white wing bars, are unmistakable. Females are beautiful in their own way, featuring duller colors than the males while lacking a black hood and back.

Baltimore Oriole Range Map

baltimore oriole range map

These birds spend most of their time at the tops of deciduous trees, fluttering around, building beautiful woven nests, and looking for food. They are most often found in open woodlands, riverbanks, and on the edges of swamps and forests. Even though they enjoy trees, they normally aren’t seen in deep, dark forests.

Baltimore Orioles LOVE eating ripe fruit and nectar!

These two sugary foods provide lots of energy, while insects give them the nutrition they need.

Baltimore Orioles are the most commonly seen oriole in North Carolina. And luckily, these birds are relatively easy to attract to your bird feeders, as long as you use the foods they enjoy eating.

YouTube video

Baltimore Orioles in MY Backyard!

Try using one of these strategies below:

  • Ripe fruit, such as bananas, cherries, grapes, or various berries. Orioles are attracted to the color orange, so putting out orange slices works best in my backyard.
  • Grape jelly, placed in a cup, is a treat that orioles find hard to resist. You may also see catbirds and woodpeckers sampling the jelly.
  • Similar to hummingbirds, Baltimore Orioles love drinking nectar from flowers. You can take advantage of this fact by setting out oriole-friendly nectar feeders at your bird feeding station.
  • I have also seen Baltimore Orioles eating suet and sunflower seeds in my backyard.

Press PLAY above to hear a Baltimore Oriole singing!

Baltimore Orioles are often heard before being seen since they live so high up in trees. Listen for males to make a flutelike whistling noise while defending their breeding territory. Females also sing, but it’s shorter and used to communicate with her mate.

Scientific Name: Icterus galbula

#2. Orchard Oriole

species of orioles in

While most orioles species feature bright orange plumage, male Orchard Orioles are a darker orange and appear rust-colored. Females are greenish-yellow, with white wing bars on black wings.

Orchard Orioles are commonly found in North Carolina during summer.

orchard oriole range map

Orchard Oriole Range Map

But these shy birds are not often seen because they spend most of their time at the tops of trees. Preferred habitat includes the edges of rivers, swamps, lakeshores, open woodlands, farms, and scrublands. In winter, they migrate south to Mexico through South America.

While many oriole species regularly visit bird feeders, Orchard Orioles are much harder to attract to them. You are probably more likely to see these orioles in your backyard searching for insects in shrubby vegetation or eating mulberries from a tree. But if you’re lucky, you may see them at your feeders eating sunflower seeds or orange slices, drinking sugar water from a nectar feeder, or sipping a bit of grape jelly.

Press PLAY above to hear an Orchard Oriole singing!

An Orchard Oriole’s song is similar to an American Robin, except it’s more varied. Listen for a series of loud whistles that lasts 3-4 seconds, which is used to attract mates.

Scientific Name: Icterus spurius

Do you need help attracting orioles?

Try reading this article that I wrote. It should help!

Which of these orioles have you seen before in North Carolina?

Leave a comment below!

To learn more about birds that live near you, check out these other guides!

*The range maps you will see above were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!*

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One Comment

  1. Scott,

    We now have two male Baltimore Orioles, and there is at least one female, at our property in Hickory, NC (Catawba County)! We’re on the outskirts of town and have many trees on our property, but this year we were just stunned to see one show up at our feeders in early January. My husband spotted two in a the cypress trees on the side of our house about three days ago. We took a chance and bought a feeder for them, bright orange. They like the grape jelly, but we haven’t yet observed them feeding on the oranges.

    We have talked with the folks at the local WBU store, and they haven’t heard of anyone who has seen the Baltimore Orioles around here. A couple of bird watchers at our church have also not seen them, or not for several years.

    They seem to like hanging out in our cypress trees.

    You mentioned that they are shy birds, and we were wondering about that. when we moved their feeder to the larger feeding system with several feeders the other day, they didn’t visit, although before we got their feeder they did come to the larger one. So we put it back where we hang the feeder with meal worms, since they like those, too. They like the Wild Birds Unlimited No Mess Blend Plus which has chunks of fruit.

    We hope they stay around and build a nest!