BALTIMORE ORIOLE
(Icterus galbula)

Carrollton, Carroll Co., GA

text and photos by Jim Flynn

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On 9 February 1998, Giff Beaton and myself traveled to Carrollton, GA (southwest of Atlanta) to observe a female oriole which had been coming to suet and fruit feeders for the past two weeks.  The bird was originally reported to the Statewide RBA as a female Bullock's Oriole due mostly to the white belly.  Naturally, since Bullock's is listed as an accidental winter visitor in Georgia, the report caused quite a stir, especially since Bullock's and Baltimore Orioles have once again achieved full species status.

Several white-bellied female orioles had been reported in the east this particular winter, and the Frontiers of Identification list server hosted a very informative debate on the diagnostic characteristics of the females of these two species.

This individual appeared to have too many orange tones in the breast, tail and vent to be a Bullock's Oriole.  Also, although all the photos show a bird with a white belly and flanks, close examination of the bottom right photo shows a yellow-orange stripe continuing from the breast down through the belly.  Most of the photos are slightly over exposed, so the whiteness of the underparts is unfortunately enhanced.

There are several other features which seemingly point to this bird as being a Baltimore Oriole, such as the darker centers to the back feathers, the "plain-faced" look and the somewhat broad white wingbar, but I invite comments from other birders who have more experience with Bullock's Orioles than myself.  Please email your thoughts to webmaster@gos.org.

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