Laurie’s Oriole “Baltimore”

Learn one woman's story about helping an oriole.

We own a Campground/Motel in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I had raised an oriole for 3 years. He fell out of his nest in the spring of 2002 and landed right on the ground in front of my husband. We knew what kind of bird it was ’cause we saw the mother high up in the tree, but much too high for us to reach. I don’t know how it survived, but it had just hatched as he had not a feather on him and his eyes were closed. Well, being the avid bird lover that I am, I was not gonna let this bird die. Everyone is always bringing me hurt and injured birds. I named him “Baltimore,” of course. Kept him under a heat lamp and fed him baby bird food with an eye dropper. Of course I got right online to see what orioles eat. It cost me a fortune in mealworms. I have an outdoor aviary (my wonderful husband made it for my birthday present one year) that I house canaries, finches, budgies, doves, etc. In the winter I bring the birds to my indoor aviary. When Baltimore was able to eat on his own, I put him in with my birds. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but he made sure he was the boss.

In the summer the campers would collect flies, spiders or any other bug living and dead. They would bring it to Baltimore and he would eat it right out of their hands. It sure helped with the cost as I didn’t have to buy as many mealworms in the summer. He also really loved grape jelly and oranges of course. He was such a riot and the campers loved him. When he turned about 1 year old, I decided that I should let him go into the wild and I set him free. He hung around the campground stopping by the campers sites for a free handout. The campers were just so amazed as they had never seen anything like it. Anyhow, while he was out I don’t know what happened but I heard him peeping one day over in the hedge on the ground and I knew something was wrong. He had hurt himself and couldn’t fly. Well, that was it. Back into the aviary where he seemed the most content and happy. So, he stayed in the aviary for the next 2 years. It took about 2 full years to get his colours in. Last spring (2006) I noticed that Baltimore had fully matured and was wanting to mate and wasn’t having much luck with the canaries, in fact, he was getting quite nasty. Even when we held him he was getting aggressive and biting, so I decided to set him free again as the orioles had arrived for the summer and I thought he might find a little girl. Well, as usual he hung around getting free handouts, but the problem was he was scaring the campers now. He would fly into people’s cars and start pecking their ears. It was quite funny to us as we knew how he was, but it was quite a shock to an unsuspecting person minding their own business. He would follow people around the campground and land on their heads. Well, you can imagine the photo sessions going on around here. We were known as the campground with the tame oriole. Baltimore just didn’t want to leave, so I thought if I could relocate him that might help so I took him to my Mom’s house which is about a 30 minute drive from here.

Well, after 2 weeks who came hollering at my door for a free handout? It was Baltimore. The little bugger found his way back. Well we decide we would just make the best of it and ensure the campers that Baltimore meant no harm, even though he would peck their ears apart and pull your hair. Most found it rather amusing, except those that didn’t like birds. Well, after a couple of weeks we think he may have found his first love as he disappeared once again, never to be seen, although I was talking to someone telling them about my Baltimore and they said they knew someone in St. Catharines (about a 20 minute drive) that had an oriole in their backyard that was overly friendly, so we are not sure but it might have been Baltimore. So if you ever need to know anything about an oriole, we can tell you it all as we have 3 years of “Baltimore” training.

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