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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Confirm female Baltimore Oriole for rare winter sighting in Toronto? (1 Viewer)

I've been attending to (what I believe is) a female Baltimore Oriole in my Toronto (Canada) back yard since around November 15, 2020. I'm wondering if someone can confirm whether she is in fact a female Baltimore Oriole, and whether it's possible to discern whether she's a younger or older bird.

Baltimore Orioles were plentiful in my back yard this past summer, and I think I noticed this same female when I took closeup photos back then, as her upper beak (culmen?) appeared to be more curved than others', and her colouring was a little different from the other female Orioles'. A male Orchard Oriole also stopped by one early summer day; apart from the colour, the size difference was very obvious to me. By early autumn, I was certain the Orioles had left, although I vaguely recall noticing what looked like a female now and then, several weeks after the last of the males was gone.

I was surprised to spot her on one of my suet feeders on November 15. Since this feeder was monopolized by other birds, I scrambled to set up additional feeding areas for her. Things have evolved to the point she now has her own feeder and water platform up against my dining room window to keep her somewhat separate from the aggressive Mockingbird and other birds. To my surprise, the only things she eats are peanuts (which she grates into very fine bits with her beak) and live mealworms -- no interest in anything else, including the suet, sunflower seeds without shell, any kind of fruit or jelly. She can be seen at various angles in this video:


And here she is closer up, grating some peanuts. I think somehow her beak looks even larger/more curved in this one! 😅


Any help with confirming who she is, and any anecdotes of other Orioles wintering uncharacteristically north, would be much appreciated!
 
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Incidentally, for anyone who's interested, here are a few more things about all this wintering songbird situation:

  • we had some cold November nights, down to -6 Celsius, which she seemed to have breezily survived
  • there is another female Baltimore Oriole wintering far north of Toronto, at Georgian Bay
  • there is apparently a Baltimore Oriole wintering in Nova Scotia (and I've read an account of 2 that survived a NS winter in 2012)
  • there is apparently a Summer Tanager wintering near Toronto, in Newmarket

I've come across reports of Orioles wintering in Massachusetts and North Carolina, but haven't found any accounts detailing their survival as far north as Ontario, Canada. I hope these birds make it through to spring!
 

birdmeister

Well-known member
United States
I agree with Jeff in regards to species and age.

Your sighting is indeed rare, and nice work in photographing and filming it! Simply judging by eBird reports (and a couple other reports I've seen), an unusual number of Baltimore Orioles are wintering in the eastern US this year. Most of these, however, are more in the Mid-Atlantic states (PA, NJ) and south. I do think Toronto is rather exceptional for one to try and winter! Hope it makes it through.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Just as an aside, there's a couple of records of Baltimore Orioles wintering successfully in Britain in the past after crossing the Atlantic on autumn migration - a full 8 degrees of latitude further north than Toronto (same latitude as James Bay on the Hudson Bay). At least the winters here are a lot milder, thanks to the ocean!
 
Thank you all so much! I'll go with adult female Baltimore Oriole then (assuming the "young" speculation was referring strictly to the possibility of its being male).

Wild that they're popping up in the UK, @Nutcracker ! I'd love to hear how they end up faring by April!
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Thank you all so much! I'll go with adult female Baltimore Oriole then (assuming the "young" speculation was referring strictly to the possibility of its being male).

Wild that they're popping up in the UK, @Nutcracker ! I'd love to hear how they end up faring by April!
Yes, first-winter immature males are very similar to females, very hard to distinguish until they're about a year old.

The UK records were a few years ago, not this winter, not sure offhand how late into the winter they stayed until, but I could probably find out.

The best ever vagrant Baltimore Oriole though was the one that spent 7-8 October 2001 - in the village of Baltimore, County Cork, Ireland! What were the odds on that?!?
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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