In a major conservation success, 10 oriole chicks hatched at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s (NZCBI) Bird House, and the Zoo is seeking the public’s help to name them. In June, Bird House keepers celebrated the arrival of seven orchard oriole chicks—the first of their species to hatch in human care—which hatched in the Bird Friendly Coffee Farm Aviary. That same month, three Baltimore oriole chicks hatched in the same exhibit, in a nearby tree. Both species are native to Maryland, and the Baltimore oriole is the state bird of Maryland. Given the chicks’ significance and the species’ ties to the region, NZCBI is partnering with Maryland Governor Wes Moore to name these special birds.
Starting today, Oct. 23, voters can select their favorite names for the orchard oriole chicks on the Zoo’s website. The poll will close at noon Friday, Oct. 27. The winning names—and the names Moore has chosen for the three Baltimore oriole chicks—will be announced Oct. 27. The public can follow NZCBI on Facebook, X and Instagram for the reveal.
The 12 possible name choices were selected by the governor’s office and Zoo staff. The names that receive the most votes will be bestowed on the orchard oriole chicks. The choices are:
- Charm – Baltimore’s nickname is Charm City
- Hopkins – Johns Hopkins University is America’s first research university, located in Baltimore (Moore’s alma matter)
- Chessie – The Chesapeake Bay estuary runs through Maryland’s Eastern Shore
- Crabcake – Maryland’s favorite seafood dish
- Harriet – Marylander Harriet Tubman guided enslaved people to freedom as a conductor on the Underground Railroad
- Thurgood – Marylander Thurgood Marshall served as the Supreme Court’s first African American justice from 1967 to 1991
- Zappa – Famed musician Frank Zappa was born in Baltimore
- Susan – The black-eyed Susan is Maryland’s state flower
- Terry – The diamondback terrapin is Maryland’s state reptile
- Schmoke – Marylander Kurt Schmoke served as Baltimore’s first African American mayor from 1987 to 1999
- Crossland – The maternal family of George Calvert, Maryland’s founding father, whose colors are represented on the Maryland flag
- Francis – Marylander Francis Scott Key wrote the text to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States
While all of the oriole chicks are currently off exhibit, Zoo visitors can see their parents in the Bird Friendly Coffee Farm Aviary. This multi-sensory, immersive habitat—located inside the Bird House—mimics a tropical ecosystem where both Baltimore and orchard orioles overwinter. These and other migratory birds play critical roles in pest control, pollination and seed dispersal for trees, plants and crops. In the Bird House, bilingual panels in English and Spanish tell the story of how migratory birds connect communities and contribute to healthy ecosystems across the Americas.
The public can help protect the native birds in their own backyard by following seven simple actions to live bird friendly. These include using bird-friendly window treatments to prevent collisions with glass, keeping cats indoors, planting native plants, refraining from using pesticides, choosing Smithsonian Bird Friendly® food products, avoiding single-use plastics and sharing bird sightings with scientists via e-Bird.
Baltimore orioles are famous for the vivid black-and-orange color pattern found on male members of the species. Females are less boldly colored, with dull brown and yellow coloring. In the springtime, Baltimore orioles are frequently found in forests, fields and backyards of the Washington, D.C., region, and migrate to tropical regions during the winter months.
The orchard oriole is the smallest of the eight oriole species found north of Mexico. Male orchard orioles have deep reddish-brown chests and underparts, while females and juvenile orchard orioles are olive green with yellowish undersides. Orchard orioles live in semi-open areas with deciduous trees, including farmland, gardens and suburban yards. They can also be found in open woodland parks, especially along lakes and streams.
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Photo 1 caption: Seven orchard oriole chicks hatched in June at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
Photo 1 credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
Photo 2 caption: Three Baltimore oriole chicks hatched in June at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.Photo 2 credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute